As Parliament proceedings resume on Wednesday (March 11) after a break for Holi, both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha are expected to be rocked by the echo of the efforts to pull down the Kamal Nath-led Madhya Pradesh government and the disqualification of seven Congress MPs from the lower house for the rest of the session.
According to Congress leaders, both issues will be raised in Parliament, along with the demand for a judicial probe into the recent Delhi riots.
Interestingly, the day chosen by Jyotiraditya Scindia to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah could not have been more significant — the birth anniversary of his father, the late Madhavrao Scindia, a promising leader from the Rajiv Gandhi generation of Congressmen and prime minister material before he was killed in a tragic air crash.
His decision to desert the Congress has triggered massive Holi celebrations within the BJP while leaving arch-rivals Kamal Nath and Digvijay Singh fuming at the reported resignation of nearly 22 Congress MLAs of Madhya Pradesh who are considered to be supporters of Scindia.
The outcome of the crisis within the Congress may range from Chief Minister Kamal Nath losing his government to his predecessor Shivraj Singh Chouhan of the BJP getting crowned once again as the chief minister of the state.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is planning to vehemently oppose the Congress allegation that the ruling party was behind the mass resignation of Congress MLAs from Madhya Pradesh.
The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) coalition is also gearing up to reject any demand for resignation of the Union Home Minister Amit Shah while discussing the Delhi riots and back the Lok Sabha Speaker’s decision to suspend seven MPs from the opposition.
Backed by Left parties, All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the Congress wants to highlight the ‘murder of democracy’ in Madhya Pradesh, dubbing it as a BJP-orchestrated conspiracy to pull down a legitimately elected state government.
BJP leaders plan to counter this by pointing out that internal squabbles within the opposition party were responsible for the current state of affairs. The net result is expected to be another day of disruption, with even the much-demanded discussion on Delhi riots — listed in Lok Sabha for Wednesday — not happening due to frequent adjournments.
With elections in the upper house queering the pitch, both the NDA coalition and the opposition are not in a mood to forego any opportunity to score political points. Hence, a major stand-off is anticipated in the second week of the second part of the Budget session of Parliament.
The first week having been virtually washed off; discussions on demands for grants are yet to take off and important decisions announced in the budget are waiting to be discussed.
Meanwhile, the Modi government is planning to inform both houses of Parliament about the Yes Bank crisis and the steps taken so far to protect its customers. This could also become a flashpoint due to the heated exchanges over the purchase of a painting from Priyanka Gandhi Vadra by Yes Bank promoter Rana Kapoor who is now being questioned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
The government is also keen to update both the houses on coronavirus issue and explain the steps being taken to rescue Indians stuck in Iran. However, this too will be possible only if the houses function normally and the opposition refrains from stalling Parliament.
Scindia’s decision to join the BJP has been carefully choreographed, leading to a climax in the long-drawn factional feud within the Congress in Madhya Pradesh and leaving it in a state of collateral damage.
For any opportunistic gains in the state, the BJP can thank the Congress high command for letting the Nath-Scindia-Singh wars go on for months.
In landing Scindia as the big catch, the BJP has tried to fish in troubled waters, but the trouble in itself was the creation of the Congress.
Despite his role in the 2018 Madhya Pradesh assembly election victory being recognised widely within the Congress, the high command of the party failed to anoint Scindia in any major role within the party’s state unit.
Rajya Sabha elections
Despite the demand of his supporters, Scindia did not get to head the Madhya Pradesh unit of the Congress and this just added insult to injury on account of him not being given any role in the Kamal Nath government.
Scindia standing next to Rahul Gandhi in Lok Sabha during uproars in the lower house showed a picture of his proximity to the younger Gandhi, but the scene changed after the party’s debacle in last year’s Lok Sabha election which also saw the younger Scindia losing his seat.
The final straw seems to have come from the lack of any assurance by the Congress high command in getting Scindia elected to the Rajya Sabha this month.
In the BJP, Scindia might be given a berth in the upper house, but his role is likely to be more focused on Delhi as Shivraj Singh Chouhan is going strong as the saffron party’s premier leader in Madhya Pradesh.
The BJP might also turn the tables on the opposition in getting one additional Rajya Sabha berth from the state. Speculation about fielding Priyanka Gandhi Vadra for an upper house seat from Madhya Pradesh could have also hastened Scindia’s exit, say BJP leaders.
Game of numbers
According to current calculations, the Kamal Nath government will collapse if all the 22-odd resignations of Congress MLAs from the state are accepted and there is also a possibility of Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and independent MLAs switching sides from the Kamal Nath camp.
If the BJP can come to power under such circumstances, it will not be left unchallenged by the Congress in the Supreme Court and a protracted drama may come as a result.
The scenario will totally favour the BJP only if one-third of the Congress MLAs in the state, around 38 of them, defect to the other side.
Most of the rebel MLAs are now sending their resignation letters to the Madhya Pradesh Governor and the number now exceeds 20, enough to pull down Kamal Nath.
Congress could stretch the fight to a floor test, and Kamal Nath, known to be an astute dealmaker, may recommend dissolution of the Madhya Pradesh assembly if his government falls.
In that case, the Scindia effect will be known for forcing the second assembly election in Madhya Pradesh within a span of two years.