As many as 22 Congress MLAs in Madhya Pradesh resigned on Tuesday, putting survival of the Kamal Nath-led government in the state in doubt.
The development came on the day senior leader Jyotiraditya Scindia, to whose faction the 22 MLAs including six ministers belonged, announcing that he had quit the party.
Both Congress and opposition BJP held meetings of their legislature wings on Tuesday evening, and decided to move their respective MLAs to unknown locations.
At the meeting of Congress Legislature Party, around 100 MLAs including four independents were present, a minister in the Kamal Nath government claimed.
They expressed faith in his government, he added. But the 22 rebel MLAs as well as two BSP and one SP MLAs who back the government skipped the meeting, sources said.
Earlier in the day, Scindia, who went incommunicado along with the MLAs loyal to him on Monday, met Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi.
Governor Lalji Tandon, who is in Lucknow for celebrating Holi, is likely to cut short his visit and rush back to Bhopal, sources said.
Congress worker removes name plate of Jyotiraditya Scindia from PCC office, in Bhopal. (PTI)
In a significant development, BSP MLA Sanjiv Singh Kushwaha and SP legislator Rajesh Shukla met BJP leader and former chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Tuesday evening.
Chief Minister Nath wrote to the Governor seeking immediate removal of six ministers who belong to Scindia's camp and who are among MLAs who have resigned.
The letter named ministers Imarati Devi, Tulsi Silawat, Govind Singh Rajput, Mahendra Singh Sisodiya, Pradyumn Singh Tomar and Prabhuram Chaudhari.
Other MLAs who have resigned are Hardeep Singh Dang, Rajyavardhan Singh, Brajendra Singh Yadav, Jaspal Jajji, Suresh Dhakad, Jaswant Jatav, Raksha Santram Sironia,
Munnalal Goyal, Ranveer Singh Jatav, OPS Bhadoria, Kamlesh Jatav, Giriraj Dandotiya, Raghuraj Kansana, Aidalsingh Kansana, Biasahulal Singh and Manoj Choudhary.
State Congress spokesperson Pankaj Chaturvedi, a close confidant of Scindia, resigned from the party's primary membership soon after Scindia announced that he was quitting the party.
Jyotiraditya Scindia (PTI)
BJP leaders met Assembly Speaker N P Prajapati and handed resignations of 19 Congress MLAs who are holed up in a resort in Bengaluru. After receiving the letters, Prajapati told reporters that he will take decision as per the rules.
While the Congress, which was voted to power in the state after 15 years in 2018, has 114 MLAs, the BJP has 107 legislators in the 230-member assembly. Two seats are at present vacant.
Four Independent MLAs, two lawmakers of the Bahujan Samaj Party and one Samajwadi Party legislator are supporting the Congress-led government.
Chief minister Nath asserted late Tuesday night that there was no threat to his government.
He said he was in touch with rebel MLAs. "They have been kept in captivity. If not, why would they be in Bengaluru," he added.