The 22 Congress rebels who had resigned from the Madhya Pradesh Assembly earlier this month officially joined the BJP on Saturday in the national capital, brightening the saffron party’s prospects of stitching together a strong government in the state.
The Jyotiraditya Scindia loyalists were welcomed by Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar at BJP president J P Nadda’s residence. Tomar, who, along with fellow Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, was instrumental in bringing the MLAs together before their exit from the Congress, said they would all have a “bright future” in the party.
The induction assumes significance as it indicates that the BJP will field them as candidates in the bypolls and could reward them to keep the government stable in the state.
The MLAs had left Madhya Pradesh for Bengaluru on March 9. After the Congress alleged that they had been held captive at a resort in the Karnataka capital, the rebels released videos denying the allegation and later held a press conference.
They sent their resignations through former BJP minister Bhupendra Singh, who submitted them to Assembly Speaker N P Prajapati. Prajapati refused to accept the resignations, saying he wanted to verify if they had signed voluntarily by meeting them in person.
However, the Speaker eventually accepted all resignations before the Supreme Court-mandated trust vote. The rebels returned only after Chief Minister Kamal Nath resigned on Friday. All along, the MLAs claimed that they faced a threat to their life and would return only if they were provided CRPF security.
In Bhopal, the Congress took a dig at the rebels. “Scindia never let them become Congress leaders and ensured they remained his supporters. Only time will tell if they support the BJP or Scindia,’’ said Narendra Saluja, media coordinator of Kamal Nath, who is now caretaker Chief Minister.
Saluja claimed former Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s dream to occupy the top chair again would be dashed as the BJP was reposing faith in Union Minister Tomar, who conducted the programme inducting the Congress rebels.
Unlike in the past, when the BJP came to power in Madhya Pradesh with a clear majority, the saffron party has to ensure that that the government enjoys formidable support in the Assembly, sources said.
To this end, they said, the induction of the rebel Congress members was necessary.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines