Former union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday, a day after his resignation from the Congress party had the Kamal Nath government scrambling for numbers in the Madhya Pradesh assembly.
Scindia, 49, met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi before resigning. Media reports said the BJP is likely to offer him a Rajya Sabha seat and make him a Cabinet minister later.
"Having been a primary member of the Congress party for the last 18 years. It is now time for me to move on,” said Scindia in his letter resignation letter to Sonia Gandhi, the party’s working president.
"To reflect and realise the aspirations of my people and workers I believe it is best that I now look ahead at a fresh start," he said in the letter.
As many 22 Congress MLAs resigned in MP to support Scindia, potentially reducing Nath’s 15-month-old government to a minority in the assembly that has a strength of 228. The BJP has 107 members and the rest of the seats are held by the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party and independents.
The Congress plans to take its remaining 92 legislators to an undisclosed location to prevent poaching, reported news agency PTI quoting an unnamed party leader.
“There is nothing to worry about, we will prove our majority. Our government will complete its term,” Chief Minister Nath was quoted by reported news agency ANI as saying.
Scindia, once a rising star in the Congress, was a four-time MP before losing in the 2019 general election. Scindia and Kamal Nath, who belongs to the Congress old guard, competed for the chief minister’s post after the party narrowly won the state elections in December 2018. Scindia's supporters in the Nath government were sidelined and his ambition to be the state Congress president wasn’t heeded, PTI reported.
BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said the Congress had humiliated Scindia. "His resignation from Congress shows that youngsters even within the party don't have faith on the leadership of Gandhi family," Hussain was quoted by PTI as saying.
Two Congress leaders accused Scindia of betrayal. "It is simply political convenience and personal ambition, which have played a major part in his decision," Adhir Chowdhury told PTI.
"Joining hands with the BJP in a time of national crisis speaks volumes about a leader's self-indulgent political ambitions, especially when the BJP is ruining the economy, democratic institutions, social fabric and as well the judiciary," said Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Twitter.