Congress stunned the BJP on Wednesday by getting two BJP legislators to vote with the ruling party in Madhya Pradesh Assembly on the Criminal Law (Madhya Pradesh Amendment) Bill, 2019. MLAs Narayan Tripathi and Sharad Kol had both joined BJP from the Congress.
The BJP’s loss of face came hours after Leader of Opposition Gopal Bhargava boasted on the floor of the House that the Congress government in MP would not last for 24 hours if the top leadership (he said no 1 and no 2) gives a signal.
But days later, neither has the BJP expelled them nor has the Congress accepted the duo into party fold formally. If the BJP cracks its whip, the duo will not represent the party any longer but they will continue to be MLAs and vote according to their will. The BJP had not issued any whip but it had boycotted the proceedings so the duo was expected not to vote for or against.
So there were 122 votes for the Bill, two more than the maximum 120 votes the ruling Congress could have hoped for given the Assembly arithmetic. The speaker was not required to vote. Effectively, Congress got the support of 123 legislators in the 230-member house.
Though not a formal trust vote, the result allowed the Congress to take potshots at the BJP whose leaders often boast that the Kamal Nath government will not last long. “It is a revenge for Karnataka,’’ said one minister.
The Congress won’t enroll the duo formally because that would bring anti-defection law in play and entail loss of membership. Since the budget session has just ended neither party is in any hurry to take a call on the duo.
The Assembly elections threw a fractured mandate giving the Congress 114 and the BJP 109. The Congress formed the government with support from two BSP, one SP and four Independent MLAs. The BJP tally was reduced to 108 after an MLA was elected to the Lok Sabha.