In a major development in the crisis brewing in Madhya Pradesh, assembly Speaker NP Prajapati has issued notices to 22 rebel Congress MLAs, asking them to appear before him by Friday (March 13) and clarify whether they have resigned voluntarily or under pressure.
The 15-month-old Kamal Nath-led government has been facing deep crisis following the resignation of 22 Congress MLAs after former Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia quit the party on Tuesday, and joined the BJP.
While the BJP said it will seek a floor test in the state assembly next Monday (March 16), the Congress said it is ready to face the test only after a decision on the resignations of the 22 MLAs.
Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh said Speaker Prajapati has issued notices to the 22 MLAs, including six ministers, who have resigned. He sought to know why the MLAs were not meeting the speaker to submit their resignations.
The speaker has asked the 22 MLAs to appear before him by Friday to clarify whether they have resigned voluntarily or under any pressure, said Vidhan Sabha principal secretary AP Singh.
“Since the government is in minority, we are going to request the governor and the assembly speaker for a floor test on March 16 when the state budget session begins,” BJP’s chief whip in the Madhya Pradesh assembly, Narottam Mishra, told reporters here.
“This government has lost majority,” senior BJP leader former chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said here.
BJP spokesperson Rajnish Agrawal also said that on the opening day of the state assembly’s budget session on March 16, they will press the speaker for a floor test.
When asked about the BJP’s demand, Digvijaya Singh said the chief minister is ready for a floor test. “But, there should be a decision on the resignation of MLAs before the floor test,” Singh said, while blaming the BJP for the constitutional crisis in the state.
“The resignations will be accepted when the MLAs meet the Speaker one-on-one and verify their signatures without any pressure. Then the resignations will be accepted and the floor test can be conducted,” he said.
Reports suggest the Congress is preparing a tough questionnaire for the MLAs, which they would have to face when they appear in person in front of the speaker.
Digvijaya Singh said the speaker has already issued notices to the rebel MLAs, who should now go to him and clear the air.
“Nineteen Congress MLAs are in their (BJP’s) captivity. The family members (of MLAs) are unable to talk to them. Their phones were taken away. It is also strange that the resignation of Congress MLAs were submitted to the speaker by BJP leader Bhupendra Singh,” he said.
On Tuesday, 22 Congress MLAs from Madhya Pradesh resigned soon after Scindia quit the party. Of these legislators, 19 are currently staying in a resort in Bengaluru while three are still in Madhya Pradesh, sources said.
Meanwhile, Scindia reached state capital Bhopal on Thursday, a day after joining the BJP, to a rousing welcome by the workers of his new party. Local BJP activists and leaders thronged the airport to greet him as soon as he stepped out of the airport.
The Congress has a wafer thin majority in the 228-member Assembly. Before the rebellion, its tally was 114. It also has the support of four Independents, two BSP MLAs and one from the SP, but some may now switch sides to the BJP.
If the resignations of the 22 MLAs are accepted, the strength of the Assembly will fall to 206. The Congress, on its own, will then be left with 92 seats, while the BJP has 107 seats with the magic number for a majority being 104.
(With inputs from agencies)