BHOPAL, Mar 20 (Agencies): In an audience, which included senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh and Congress MLAs, Congress Chief Minister Kamal Nath announced his resignation on Friday. Kamal Nath said he would meet Governor Lalji Tandon at 1pm to submit his resignation. The resignation ends the 15-month tenure of the Congress in Madhya Pradesh and paves the way for the BJP to return to power.
“In December 2018, I came to power in the Assembly. The public had given me a mandate for five years. I worked hard for 15 months. We have always believed in development. The public can see the truth behind the hostage-holding of MLAs. The truth will come out and they will not forgive,” he said.
The announcement comes after an intense year of factional feud between the Kamal Nath-Digvijaya Singh and Jyotiraditya Scindia factions of the Madhya
Pradesh Congress, which resulted in the latter resigning and joining the BJP, taking along with him lawmakers who were loyal to him.
Scindia and Nath had fallen out, mainly over the post of the state Congress president, which is currently held by the chief minister. Speculations and rumours over differences between Kamal Nath and Scindia have been making the rounds ever since Nath took over as the chief minister in December 2018. Scindia, many had believed, would be made the chief of MP Congress Committee soon after Congress formed the government in the state. But 14 months hence, this has not happened.
Speculations were rife that Chief Minister Kamal Nath’s resignation was on the cards, ahead of a press meet he announced at 12pm, hours before the Supreme Court-mandated floor test at 2pm. Speaker N.P. Prajapati accepted the resignations of 16 rebel Congress MLAs on Thursday, thus removing whatever was left of the wafer-thin margin that Congress enjoyed in the Assembly. Earlier, the speaker had accepted the resignations of six MLAs; all 22 of the lawmakers were Jyotiraditya Scindia loyalists who resigned after the former Guna MP and close Rahul Gandhi aide defected to the BJP from the Congress. The rebel MLAs are still in Bengaluru and had refused to participate in the floor test.
The acceptance of these resignations brings down the strength of the house to 206 and the majority mark will be 104. The Congress had won 114 seats in the 2018 assembly polls, two short of a majority in the 230-member House. It formed the government in December with the support of the two BSP MLAs, one from the SP and four independent MLAs. The BJP, which lost power in the state after 15 years, bagged 109 assembly seats. The Congress now has 91 members, excluding the speaker, and probable support of four independent legislators, one SP MLA and two BSP members. The ruling dispensation will still be short of the majority mark by six. The BJP has 107 MLAs, of whom 106 were paraded before the governor on March 16.
The Supreme Court has directed a floor test by raising of hands and also for the process to be videographed and also live telecast. It has directed that the process should be conducted in a peaceful manner and that if the 16 Congress MLAs in Bengaluru (who have sent resignations) want to attend the proceedings, the DGPs of Karnataka and MP should provide them with security. “In the event that they or any of them opt to attend the session of the legislative assembly, arrangements for their security shall be provided by all the concerned authorities,” it ordered. The court also directed the legislative secretary to ensure that there is “no breach of law and order” during floor test which should be conducted in a peaceful manner. The court said the floor test “shall be concluded by 5:00pm on March 20.”