Following the success of “Operation Lotus” in Karnataka, a BJP leader claimed in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly on Wednesday that the Kamal Nath government in the state can be toppled within 24 hours — if the party’s top leadership ordered.
The statement by Leader of Opposition Gopal Bhargava, coming a day after the collapse of the Congress-JD(S) regime in Karnataka, prompted chief minister Nath to state that he was ready to face a floor test anytime.
The exchange of barbs took place during the debate on a calling attention motion when the ruling Congress alleged that the previous BJP government led by Shivraj Singh Chouhan hired private helicopters and planes even when the state-owned aircraft lay unused.
Chouhan said hiring private aircraft became necessary as he rushed to the spot whenever there was a natural calamity or any other kind of emergency, unlike his successor.
This led to loud protests by Congress legislators, leading to an adjournment for five minutes. When the House reassembled, Bhargava took exception to questioning of expenditure on aircraft used by the previous chief minister.
He went on to say that “it would not take more than 24 hours to topple the Kamal Nath government if our number one and two leaders (apparently referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister and BJP president Amit Shah) ordered”.
2 BJP MLAs vote in favour of Cong govt bill
Nath retorted that his government would complete five years, and added, “Your number one and two are wise.”
“I want to make it clear that none of our MLAs are on sale,” he said, adding that he was ready to face a no-confidence motion “today itself”.
Interestingly, two BJP MLAs Narayan Tripathi and Sharad Kol on Wednesday voted in favour of the Congress-led government in Madhya Pradesh, during voting on a bill.
“The BJP says daily that we are a minority government and one which could fall any day. However, during voting in the Assembly on criminal law amendment bill, two BJP MLAs voted in favour of our government,” Nath said.
Tripathi and Kol, both former Congressmen, said they supported the seven-month-old Kamal Nath-led government for the Criminal Law (Madhya Pradesh Amendment) Bill 2019, as they wanted to develop their respective assembly constituency.
The BJP MLAs said this was their “ghar wapsi” (homecoming). The two BJP MLAs have been sent to an undisclosed location by Congress. They will attend a dinner with CM Kamal Nath tonight.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MLA Rambai Singh — a government ally — said the Kamal Nath government was stable.
Nath said he had been an elected Member of Parliament for 40 years and held several portfolios as a Union minister. During his 45-year-long political career he never faced any allegations, he added.
Chouhan said the chief minister should not complain, as such questions would be raised as his government was a minority government.
The Congress-led government in Madhya Pradesh enjoys a slender majority. Besides 114 MLAs of the Congress, it is supported by four independents, two BSP MLAs and one Samajwadi Party legislator in the 230-member House. The opposition BJP has 109 MLAs.