Wary Of Karnataka, Congress Tells Coalition MLAs To Stay On Guard In MP

Bhopal:   The events in Karnataka have cast their shadow over the Madhya Pradesh government, as the Congress-BSP-SP-Independent coalition government in the state is bracing itself for a possible showdown with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Sensing possible plans of the BJP to destabilise the slim-majority government in Madhya Pradesh, Congress leaders have cautioned the ruling coalition legislators to watch out for opposition ambushes during the ongoing Assembly session. 

The alert came after the crisis in the H.D. Kumaraswamy-led government in Karnataka deepened with a total of 17 legislators of the ruling Congress-JD-S combine resigning over the last few days.

The tension in the treasury benches in Madhya Pradesh is palpable. The MLAs are being herded by the senior members and tips are being given to the new members on how to stave off the opposition threat.

Addressing a meeting of MLAs from the Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Samajwadi Party (SP) and Independents at his residence on Sunday night, Chief Minister Kamal Nath told the legislators to stay put in the House to thwart BJP’s move to seek divisions on important issues.

Kamal Nath has categorically told the coalition MLAs not to leave the state capital till the monsoon session of the state Assembly was over, said party insiders. 

The Leader of the Opposition Gopal Bhargava had in May written a letter to Governor Anandiben Patel, requesting her to convene a special session for the floor test of the government shortly after the BJP swept the Lok Sabha polls, winning 28 out of the 29 parliamentary seats in the state.

Bhargava had said the BJP would seek divisions (voting) on financial matters. If the government failed to push through the financial matters in divisions, it ran the risk of being toppled, he had added.

Old warhorse Kamal Nath seems to have sniffed the BJP’s game plan to seek divisions on financial matters and wants the coalition partners to ensure adequate number in the House all the time.

In the Assembly polls last year, the Congress won 114 of the state’s 230 seats, two short of the majority mark of 116. Two BSP and one SP MLA along with four Independents are backing the Congress. The BJP had won 109 seats and one MLA resigned after winning the Lok Sabha elections.

When contacted, BSP MLA Ram Bai said on Tuesday that she has not been approached by the BJP for any help. “We are with the government,” Ram Bai said. 

Incidentally, Ram Bai was not getting along well with the government and had been pestering the ruling party for a cabinet berth. But after one of her relatives was accused in a murder case in her constituency Patharia in Damoh district, she fell in line with the Congress government.

While saying that the BJP played dirty politics, Madhya Pradesh Finance Minister Tarun Bhanot asserted that the saffron party could do no harm to the Congress in the state as the MLAs of the Congress and its allies stood united.

The BJP has been making the most of the situation. Its leaders make no bones about exploiting the possible chances to embarrass the seven-month old government in the state. The BJP has also asked its MLAs to be present in the House throughout the sittings to use every opportunity to force a division of votes.