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Thursday, March 04, 2021

MP crisis: ‘Coronavirus’ brings 10-day relief for Kamal Nath govt as action shifts to Supreme Court

In a relief to the tottering Kamal Nath government, which has been on the brink of collapse following the resignation of 22 MLAs, the Speaker adjourned the Assembly till March 26 due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Written by Milind Ghatwai , Liz Mathew | Bhopal, New Delhi |
Updated: March 16, 2020 7:45:27 pm
BJP parades its MLAs before Governor Lalji Tandon. (Express photo)

The BJP moved the Supreme Court on Monday after the much-anticipated floor test in Madhya Pradesh did not take place following the adjournment of the Assembly by Speaker NP Prajapati over the coronavirus pandemic.

The top court will hear the matter on Tuesday after a petition was filed by former chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and nine other MLAs demanding that the Kamal Nath-led Congress government face a trust vote within 12 hours. Follow LIVE Updates

The petition demanded that the Speaker, the Chief Minister and the Principal Secretary of the Assembly be directed to “hold the floor test in the Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly within 12 hours of the passing of the order by this court”.

Later in the evening, Madhya Pradesh Governor Lalji Tandon asked Chief Minister Kamal Nath to face floor test on Tuesday. “If you do not take a floor test by March 17, it will be assumed that you have lost your majority,” the letter by the Governor to Kamal Nath said.

Speaker adjourns MP Assembly till March 26

Earlier in the day, in a relief to the tottering Kamal Nath government, which has been on the brink of collapse following the resignation of 22 MLAs, the Speaker adjourned the Assembly till March 26 due to the coronavirus outbreak. Incidentally, barring BJP MLAs, the Speaker, CM Kamal Nath, and Congress MLAs were seen wearing masks in the House.

Madhya Pradesh crisis: Jyotiraditya Scindia joins BJP in the presence of party chief JP Nadda. (Express Photo)

In a brief address to the Assembly, which lasted less than two minutes, Governor Lalji Tandon asked legislators to follow “Constitutional traditions, maintain the dignity of democracy” and act peacefully in the current situation prevailing in the state.

However, chief whip of BJP legislative party Narottam Mishra cut short his speech and demanded a floor test as the government was in minority. Amid suspense over the floor test, all members of the House were in attendance, except the rebel 22 MLAs.

After the Assembly session was adjourned, BJP paraded 106 MLAs before the Governor and submitted a letter of support. BJP MLA from Maihar Narayan Tripathi, one of the two BJP MLAs who voted with the ruling Congress in the Assembly on a bill last year, was not among the MLAs present. “The government has lost majority and has no right to remain in power,” Shivraj Singh Chouhan said.

How the numbers stack up for Congress, BJP

Last week, the Speaker had accepted the resignations of the six Congress MLAs who had been ministers in Nath’s government. These six MLAs are among the 22 rebel legislators camping in Bengaluru. The effective strength of the 230-member Assembly presently stands at 222, with the majority mark being 112. Congress has 108 seats in the House, while BJP has 107.

The Samajwadi Party had asked its lone member to vote for the Congress. There are four Independents and two BSP MLAs.

Letter by Governor Lalji Tandon to Kamal Nath asking the CM to take a floor test by March 17

‘BJP govt will be soon in place’

Reacting to the fast-paced developments, BJP exuded confidence that all “technical hurdles” would be cleared in Madhya Pradesh and a BJP government would soon be in place. “It may take a day or a week for the legal issues to be cleared,” said a top source in the BJP. The senior leader claimed that the Speaker could not “insist that the MLAs should work with one leader if they don’t want to”.

He further said past Supreme Court verdicts were clear regarding the procedure to be followed with the resignation of MLAs. “There are laid out rules,” he said. “BJP will adopt all democratic tools and procedures to see that a government with majority support is in place in Madhya Pradesh,” the senior leader said.

Madhya Pradesh Governor Lalji Tandon with Speaker N P Prajapati in the Assembly on Monday.

Asked about BJP moving the Supreme Court following the adjournment of the Assembly, he said, “We are just waiting to see how far they (the Congress and Kamal Nath) will go. The MLAs have made it clear that they are not working with Congress or the Chief Minister.”

Another BJP senior minister said it was a comfortable position for the party. “The SC has made it clear in the Karnataka issue that the resignations should be accepted. For BJP, it’s a comfortable position. Because, if the resignations are accepted, the MLAs can’t vote. Also if it’s not, they will vote against their party whip,” he said.

Kamal Nath letter to Governor before floor test

Meanwhile, hours before the Assembly session began at 11 am, Kamal Nath wrote a letter to the Governor, saying his directive to hold a floor test was out of the purview of his constitutional rights and that it “does not lie within the domain of the Governor to interfere with the functions of the Speaker”.

In his letter, Nath claimed some of his MLAs were being held hostage in Karnataka, and a floor test should be when all MLAs are “free from coercion and not under any pressure”.

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