Former Chief Minister Kamal Nath on Sunday said he had been wrong in believing that Congress MLAs would not shift loyalty to the BJP, but asserted the defectors would lose face in the impending by-elections, because voters knew they had been “bought”.
“When by-elections are held, voters will speak their mind. We will win 20-22 seats. Will the (BJP) government last then?’’ said the Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee chief during a press conference, sounding confident that the Opposition would sweep the crucial bypolls to 24 seat that will decide the fate of the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government.
The Congress veteran admitted that his judgement and that of former CM Digvijaya Singh about potential defection of party legislators was wrong, but said there were no differences between the two senior leaders.
The defection of 22 MLAs has reduced the Congress’s strength in the 230-house to 92. The BJP presently has 107 members. In all, there will be bypolls for 24 seats — including for two seats that fell vacant after the deaths of two MLAs. Some of the defecting MLAs have claimed the BJP has promised to field them again in the bypolls.
Refuting allegations by several defecting MLAs that Nath did not give them audience, the former CM said he had a list of work carried out by these legislators. “They can’t say anything else. Will they accept that they struck a deal and fell for allurement?” he said. “I had to run the government. I had not outsourced it,” he said.
Responding to a question on his failure to anticipate the defections, the veteran leader said he had decades of political experience but was never involved in the politics of deal-making, or one that was driven by personal ambition. He also did not name former Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia — a majority of the 22 defectors are Scindia loyalists.
The Congress leader said today’s voters were aware. Speaking on the defectors, he further said, “Forget winning, they will get a befitting reply in the by-elections.”
He added that his government had taken a series of steps in anticipation of the coronavirus epidemic, but the Chouhan-led BJP government had proved unequal to the task. He recalled that when the Assembly session was adjourned from March 16-26 due to the pandemic, the Speaker had received flak for the decision.
The BJP had challenged the Speaker’s decision not to hold a trust vote at the time. Later, the Supreme Court mandated that the trust vote be held on March 20, but Nath resigned instead.