After sailing close to the wind since the Lok Sabha elections last year, the Madhya Pradesh government, run by the Congress, was on the verge of collapse on Tuesday, and it looks certain that Shivraj Singh Chouhan of the BJP will return as chief minister.
Chouhan had been chief minister from 2005 to the end of 2018, when the Congress returned to power.
This was after four-time Lok Sabha member and former Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, 49, quit the Congress. In the wake of his resignation, as many as 21 Congress legislators believed to owe allegiance to him sent their resignation letters to the speaker of the Madhya Pradesh Assembly.
At noon, Scindia tweeted his resignation letter he had sent to Congress interim chief Sonia Gandhi on Monday. He also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi. There is speculation that he could join the BJP, get elected to the Rajya Sabha from Madhya Pradesh, and join the Union cabinet.
As things stand now, the Congress has 114 legislators in the 230-member assembly.
Sources said four more Congress legislators could quit. The Congress government will lose its majority once all their resignations are accepted. Two Bahujan Samaj Party legislators and the lone Samajwadi Party MLA, who had supported the Congress government, are likely to withdraw support to the government.
On Monday evening, in an effort to save the government, Nath had asked his council of ministers to quit and offered to reconstitute it by accommodating Scindia’s nominees. This was after 17 legislators, all Scindia supporters, including six ministers, had flown from Bhopal to Bengaluru. However, a compromise eluded the party.
The initial battle between Nath, senior leader Digvijaya Singh, and Scindia was about Rajya Sabha seats. However, the Scindia camp let it be known the fight was no longer about a Rajya Sabha seat but “respect”.
They said Scindia had felt continuously insulted in the party since it had won the Madhya Pradesh Assembly election in December 2018, when he had led the campaigning from the front and was at one time promised the chief minister’s post. In his resignation letter, Scindia said, “...this is a path that has been drawing itself out over the last year. My aim and purpose remain the same ... to serve the people of my state and country, I believe am unable to do this anymore within this party.”
Soon after Scindia made public his resignation letter, the Congress expelled him for “anti-party activities”.