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Holi shock for Cong, Scindia quits party

Holi shock for Cong, Scindia quits party
(L) Jyotiraditya Scindia and (R) Madhya Pradesh Congress MLAs show their resignation letter as they pose for a group photo, in Bengaluru, Tuesday. (PTI)
NEW DELHI/BHOPAL, MAR 10 | Publish Date: 3/10/2020 10:02:10 PM IST

MP GOVT TEETERS ON EDGE AS 22 MLAS ALSO RESIGN ; SCINDIA LIKELY TO JOIN BJP

In a massive setback for the Congress, its prominent youth leader Jyotiraditya Scindia quit the party and in a coordinated rebellion on Tuesday 22 MLAs loyal to him resigned in Madhya Pradesh, pushing the 15-month-old Kamal Nath government to the brink of collapse.

Scindia, 49, appeared set to join the BJP, a party which had his late grandmother Vijaya Raje Scindia as one of the leading lights amid speculation he may get a Rajya Sabha ticket and be made a union minister.

The four-time parliamentarian Jyotiraditya Scindia resigned from the Congress, shortly after meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi. 

He is expected to join the BJP sometime this week, days after criticising the party over violence in Delhi, and is likely to be rewarded with a Rajya Sabha seat and subsequently a berth in the union cabinet.

There was no official word on what transpired at the meetings. However, BJP sources asserted that the decision of the party’s top two leaders to hold long deliberations with Scindia underlined the importance they attach to a politician considered close to Rahul Gandhi.

BJP sources said Scindia is likely to be inducted into the party in the next day or two and certainly before March 13--the last day for filing of nominations for the three Rajya Sabha seats in MP.

A shell-shocked Congress, in a largely symbolic move of no consequence, expelled Scindia, the party general secretary and scion of the erstwhile Gwalior royal family, on charges of anti-party activities.

In the resignation letter dated March 9 to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Scindia said “it is now time for me to move on” as he was unable to serve the people of the country while remaining in the party. Noting that the events of the day had been drawing themselves out for a year, Scindia said it was now best for him to look at a fresh start.

The Congress party said his letter was received at Sonia Gandhi’s residence only at 12.20 pm on Tuesday, a day which was also Scindia’s father and Congress leader Madhavrao Scindia’s 75th birth anniversary.

Scindia’s decision to quit was welcomed as ‘ghar wapsi’ by his paternal aunt and BJP MLA from Madhya Pradesh, Yashodhara Raje. His another paternal aunt Vasundhara Raje is also a BJP leader and a former chief minister of Rajasthan.

His father Madhavrao Scindia had also started his political innings as an MP of the Jana Sangh, the earlier avatar of the BJP, in 1971 but joined the Congress later. Several Congress leaders including Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot accused Jyotiraditya Scindia of betraying the trust of the people and placing “personal ambition” over ideology.

MP govt hangs in balance: With Scindia’s loyalist MLAs following suit, the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh appeared headed for a collapse and will be reduced to minority if the resignation letters of the 22 legislators are accepted by Assembly Speaker N P Prajapati.

The Congress, whose tally before the rebellion is 114, has a wafer-thin majority in the Assembly whose current effective strength is 228. It also has the support of four Independents, two BSP and one SP MLA but some of them are now likely to 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.

A delegation of BJP leaders met the Speaker in Bhopal and handed over the resignations of 19 Congress MLAs who are holed up in a resort in Bengaluru in BJP-ruled Karnataka.

Senior BJP leader Bhupendra Singh reached Bhopal on Tuesday afternoon by a special flight, carrying with him the resignations, said BJP MLA Vishwas Sarang.

Three more Congress MLAs who are in Bhopal also submitted their resignations to the Speaker.

Six of the MLAs are ministers. After their resignation, Kamal Nath wrote to the Governor seeking their immediate removal.

Singh read out the names of the MLAs whose letters he was submitting in front of Prajapati, claiming that the Congress government had lost its majority.

Singh also claimed these resignations were in the MLAs’ own hand-writing.

The number of Congress MLAs resigning could reach 30 very soon, he claimed.

However, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath on Tuesday said that his government will complete its full term and prove majority in the house. “There is nothing to worry about, we will prove our majority. Our government will complete its term,” he told while speaking to media. 

Governor Lalji Tandon, who is in Lucknow to celebrate Holi, said he is keeping a tab on the political developments in Madhya Pradesh and that any decision related to it will be taken only after reaching the Raj Bhavan in Bhopal.

Scindia has long been at loggerheads with Kamal Nath who belongs to the old guard. After narrowly winning the state Assembly elections in December 2018, Kamal Nath took over as chief minister.

But trouble started brewing recently when Scindia’s supporters in the government were side-lined, and it appeared that his ambitions to be the state Congress president were also thwarted. It was also clear that the central leadership was not ready to listen to his grievances.

This weekend, Scindia and six ministers in the Kamal Nath Cabinet went to Bengaluru and became incommunicado. It then became clear that a rebellion was brewing in the party and Kamal Nath would lose the support of the six ministers as well as other MLAs loyal to Scindia. 

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