Irrespective of when the BJP stakes a claim to form the next government in Madhya Pradesh, its longevity will depend on the outcome of bypolls — as and when the Election Commission announces their schedule.
Speaker N P Prajapati on Friday announced that he has accepted the resignation of BJP MLA Sharad Kol, taking to 25 the number of seats where bypolls could be held. However, Kol claimed that his resignation dated March 6 was taken under duress and that he had sent another letter and email later with a request not to accept his resignation.
While the new speaker will take a call on Kol’s resignation, the bypolls necessitated by resignations of 22 Jyotiraditya Scindia loyalists, and the death of two legislators, will be key to the incumbent government’s future.
Most of these seats are located in the Gwalior-Chambal belt, where Scindia holds sway. While the former Union minister was quick to join the BJP, the 22 legislators, who are yet to return to Madhya Pradesh from Karnataka, have not made it clear if they, too, would follow the suit. During their interaction with the media in Bengaluru two days ago, they remained non-committal to specific queries.
The BJP’s current strength is 107 and it will need to win nine seats to reach the simple majority of 116. Most of the seven non-BJP, non-Congress legislators on Friday indicated that they could go with the new government, but the BJP may not bank on them, given how they tried to extract their pound of flesh when the Congress was in power with 114 seats.
Assuming that the rebels switch their loyalty and the BJP decides to field them, the by-elections will be a difficult proposition for the party cadre because these are the same people they campaigned against in the 2018 elections.
The Congress has already made its bypoll strategy clear. “Whoever is fielded by the BJP, we will run them down as traitor,’’ said a party insider.
The former ministers in Kamal Nath cabinet — Mahendra Sisodiya, Tulsiram Silawat, Imarti Devi, Govind Singh Rajput, Pradyumna Singh Tomar and Prabhuram Chaudhary — will be targeted in particular by the Congress workers.
A couple of BJP leaders put up a brave front to say they will have no choice but to campaign.