The 15-month-old Congress government in Madhya Pradesh fell on Friday when Chief Minister Kamal Nath chose to resign ahead of a trust vote ordered by the Supreme Court a day earlier to end the uncertainty in the state following the resignation of 22 Congress MLAs.
Announcing his resignation at a press conference at his official residence around noon, Kamal Nath accused the Opposition BJP of plotting to bring down his government from the day he took charge in December 2018. He then headed to Raj Bhavan to hand over his resignation to Governor Lalji Tandon at 1.15 pm.
When the Assembly met at 2 pm, Speaker N P Prajapati said the special sitting had been called to honour the Supreme Court order but its implementation was redundant because the government led by Kamal Nath had resigned. The proceedings lasted barely a few minutes before the Speaker adjourned the Assembly sine die. The apex court had ordered that the trust vote be concluded by 5 pm Friday.
The strength of the 230-member House came down to 205 Friday following the acceptance of 23 resignations (one of the BJP) and two vacancies caused due to the death of members — the BJP had a strength of 107.
While BJP legislators were present in the House, Congress legislators collected at the Chief Minister’s residence, some raising slogans in his support. Ministers stood on the stage some distance away from the CM when he addressed the press and clapped once in a while along with party legislators who sat below.
“In my 40 years of public life, I have always followed politics of probity and given priority to democratic values. Whatever has happened in last two weeks is a new chapter in devaluation of democratic values,’’ the CM said in his resignation letter to the Governor.
Earlier, he told reporters: “The BJP will not succeed in its game. The party should not forget that today will be followed by tomorrow and the day after.”
His rival and former Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, favourite among BJP contenders for the CM post, tweeted: “Satyamev Jayate.”
Kamal Nath claimed the BJP did not like his campaign against the mafia which, he said, proliferated during its 15-year-rule. He said the BJP could not reconcile with his “pro-poor” and “pro-people” policies and announcements like building 1,000 gaushalas, Ram Van Gaman Path, a Sita temple in Sri Lanka and allocation hundreds of crores for the Mahakal and Omkareshwar temples.
He said he tried to give a new direction and identity to the state though he got just 15 months, of which nearly two-and-a-half months were lost in the 2019 general elections, unlike the BJP that had a long run.
The Congress veteran said the BJP tried to plot and conspire against his government from day one with repeated warnings that the government won’t last for a fortnight or a month. He claimed the BJP spent crores on luring Congress legislators to Bengaluru by arranging planes and accommodating them in a resort there. The people, he said, will not pardon the rebel and the greedy, a reference to the rebel Congress legislators, for “this treachery”.
“I did not want Congress in Mahal (palace) but Mahal in Congress for people to become strong,’’ he said, a remark that suggested he was taking a swipe at Jyotiraditya Scindia who switched from the Congress to the BJP and is now the latter’s Rajya Sabha candidate from MP.
Scindia responded with a tweet in Hindi: “In Madhya Pradesh today, the people have won. I have always maintained that politics should be a medium to serve people but the state government had strayed from the path. Truth has prevailed again. Satyamev Jayate.”
The people, Kamal Nath said, had given a mandate for five years and the Congress party proved its majority thrice in the Assembly but the BJP was worried that if the government lasted the full term, it would not be able to return to power. He said the Congress government had waived crop loans of lakhs of farmers.
Underlining that his government was never accused of scams or corruption, Kamal Nath said he would take a certificate from the people, not the BJP — this was in response to the BJP charge that his government had indulged in rampant loot by running a “transfer industry”. The BJP had also accused the government of posturing by cracking down on one criminal and collecting from others after warning them of similar action. He said the BJP was scared that scams like e-tendering, Bundelkhand package and Vyapam during its rule would be investigated.
There was a flutter ahead of the CM’s press conference when Speaker Prajapati said he had accepted the resignation of BJP MLA Sharad Kol. The letter was dated March 6. However, Kol claimed he had been forced to resign and that he sent another letter on March 16, requesting the Speaker not to accept it.
The Speaker’s announcement led to speculation that the Congress was trying to win over a few BJP legislators. Kol’s resignation reduced the House strength from 230 to 205. The Speaker had earlier accepted resignations of 22 legislators and there were two vacancies due to the death of the members.
Four Independents and two BSP legislators, among the seven legislators supporting the Kamal Nath government, changed their tune, suggesting that they would review their priorities because they were “committed to voters” in their constituencies and could support the new government.
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