Bhopal: Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath today resigned from the post without facing a test of strength that his Congress government was certain to lose after the exodus of MLAs loyal to Jyotiraditya Scindia, who crossed over to the BJP last week. "Everyone saw how crores of rupees were spent. How a democratically-elected government was brought down by the BJP who lured a power-hungry, ambitious "Maharaj" rejected by voters and 22 greedy MLAs influenced by him," said Kamal Nath, hitting out at his former colleague and the BJP.
The Congress, desperate to win back the rebel MLAs, had tried to buy time but the Supreme Court, petitioned by the opposition BJP, ruled that the "state of uncertainty" should be effectively resolved by a floor test to be held by 5 pm on Friday. The BJP's Shivraj Singh Chouhan, a three-time Chief Minister, is likely to return to power.
Before declaring his resignation, Kamal Nath accused the BJP of plotting from day one after he took power in December 2018. "Only time will tell what really happened. It will be investigated. But people responsible for this must remember that tomorrow comes after today and day after comes after tomorrow. Remember, that day after will come for sure," said the 73-year-old Congress veteran.
His short-lived government was hamstrung by his running feud with Jyotiraditya Scindia, who lost the race for chief ministership in 2018. After a year of bickering, the former royal scion quit saying the Congress was no longer the party it used to be. He also accused Congress leaders of undermining him. "I did not want the Congress to go to the palace. I wanted the palace to come to the Congress," said Kamal Nath, in another dig at Scindia, known to his supporters as "Maharaj".
Scindia, in a tweet calling it a victory of the people of Madhya Pradesh, said the Congress government had strayed from its path of public welfare.
The Congress's majority in Madhya Pradesh was always shaky and dependent on fractious allies, but its clock started ticking when 22 MLAs flew to Bengaluru by a special flight last week and resigned after Jyotiraditya Scindia's exit.
The Speaker had accepted the resignation of six ministers and asked the remaining 16 to come in person before him and confirm their resignation.
The Congress claimed that the MLAs had been "kidnapped and held captive" by the BJP. Party leaders like Digvijaya Singh also claimed they had sent SOS that their phones had been snatched and they were not allowed to speak to anyone.
The rebels, however, countered the Congress assertion by routinely posting videos in which they said they were in Bengaluru of their own volition and that they wanted no further talks with the Congress. They also asked for protection to return to Bhopal, as demanded by the Speaker, saying their lives were in danger from Congress leaders.
When the Speaker yesterday asked for two weeks to decide on the MLAs, the Supreme Court said: "Weeks are gold mines for horse-trading. It is why the court has been proactive in ordering the floor tests."
The 22 Congress resignations brought down the total strength of the assembly to 206. The ruling party has 92 members and seven allied MLAs, at least five short of a simple majority of 104. The opposition BJP has 106 MLAs after one resigned.
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