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First Karnataka, now Madhya Pradesh: Congress is losing state after state

On Friday, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath announced that he would step down from office at a press conference in Bhopal after 22 of his party's MLAs resigned.

By: Express Web Desk | Kochi |
Updated: March 20, 2020 6:47:57 pm
madhya pradesh congress mlas hostage, bjp holds hostage congress mlas in itc manesar, kamal nath mp govt, congress govt madhya pradesh, shivraj singh chouhan Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath resigned from the post on Friday. (File photo)

Within a space of just nine months, the Congress has lost power in two big states in the country— Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh— as a result of the rebellion of its own legislators, raising questions on the factionalism within its state units and the inability of the national leadership to resolve such issues.

On Friday, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath announced that he would step down from office at a press conference in Bhopal after 22 of his party’s MLAs resigned. The decision brought the curtains down on the 15-month government that Nath led after his party’s victory in November 2018. In the election, the Congress had emerged as the single-largest party with 114 MLAs and was able to cross the halfway mark of 116 with the help of SP, BSP MLAs and Independents.

The resignation of the 22 Congress MLAs and their possible defection into the BJP in the ensuing bypolls come in the backdrop of the departure of Jyotiraditya Scindia from the Congress. An influential leader in the Gwalior-Chambal belt and instrumental in the victory of the Congress in the region in 2018, Scindia crossed over into the BJP after he was reportedly snubbed by Nath and Digvijaya Singh. Scindia has now wrecked vengeance on his former party by orchestrating its fall from power. His loyalists who resigned are all expected to join the BJP and contest the bypolls on the lotus symbol.

Before he offered his resignation letter to the Governor, Nath pointed fingers at the BJP and its ‘politics of horse-trading’ behind the rebellion of his party MLAs. Nath consistently maintained that the MLAs were shepherded to the resort in Bengaluru by force and detained there. The BJP on its part denied those claims and said the MLAs were unhappy in their own party.

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The script that played out in Madhya Pradesh over the last two weeks was eerily familiar to the one that played in Karnataka last year. After the Assembly elections there, the Congress and the JD(S), despite campaigning separately, formed an alliance to lead the government. But within a year of forming the government, the dissatisfaction within the leaders of the two parties quickly rose to the fore, in a clear indication that the alliance was not going to last. Finally, 16 legislators of the Congress-JD(S) combine and two Independents resigned their seats, sending a jolt to the government. Despite several attempts at bringing them back into the fold, a majority of the MLAs refuse to concede. In the floor test that followed in July, 2019, the ruling JD(S)-Congress combine lost the trust vote 100-107, paving the way for the Opposition BJP to come to power again.

With the fall of the MP government, the Congress is now in power in just three states and is part of coalition governments in two other states.

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