New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has brought the Congress-led government in Madhya Pradesh on the brink of collapse.
As many as 22 MLAs loyal to Jyotiraditya Scindia, a popular leader from the state and four-term MP, sent their resignations to the assembly speaker Tuesday. Scindia quit the Congress the same day and joined the BJP a day after.
If the BJP manages to topple the Kamal Nath dispensation and form its own government, Madhya Pradesh will be another addition to the list of five states where the BJP, since coming to power in 2014, would manage to convert its minority status to majority through various machinations, including by forging alliances with small local parties and engineering defections of MLAs from rival parties while the Congress was caught napping.
In Madhya Pradesh, for instance, the Congress concentrated on bringing back its 10 MLAs who were taken by the BJP to a Gurgaon resort while remaining unaware of Scindia’s plans to quit the party.
All the five states — Karnataka, Meghalaya, Manipur, Goa and Arunachal Pradesh — witnessed high-voltage drama like Madhya Pradesh before the BJP outplayed the Congress and formed its own government.
What happened in these states shows that when the Congress was flat-footed in taking decisions, the BJP went in for the kill right after the assembly election results were out.
Here is how the BJP managed to wrest power in these states despite not having the majority.
The BJP had emerged as the single largest party with 105 MLAs, including one independent, in the 225-member Karnataka assembly after elections in May 2018.
The strength of the assembly is actually 224 excluding the Speaker, who can cast his vote in case of a tie.
The Congress had won 78 seats and Janata Dal (Secular) 34. Though BJP’s numbers fell short of the halfway mark, B.S. Yediyurappa staked claim to form the government.
He was sworn in as the CM but his government could not prove its majority and fell after three days. The Congress grabbed the opportunity and entered into a coalition with the JD(S) to stake claim to form the government. JD(S)’s H.D. Kumaraswamy became the CM. But 14 months later, the government collapsed after 17 Congress and JD(S) MLAs resigned following differences with Kumarsawamy.
The unfolding political drama got further complicated after then Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar disqualified the rebel MLAs, bringing the House strength to 207.
Yediyurappa easily managed to sail through with 106 BJP MLAs (the BJP had won one more seat in the bypoll held in May 2019).
The BJP’s number further swelled to 118 — way above the majority — after 12 of the disqualified MLAs who fought on BJP ticket won in the by-elections held in December last year.
In Meghalaya, the BJP again outwitted the Congress despite winning just two seats in the 60-member House in the 2018 elections.
The Congress got 21 seats while the National People’s Party (NPP), a BJP ally at the Centre as well as in Manipur, won 19 seats.
With the Congress dithering, the BJP moved swiftly bringing party leader Kiren Rijiju and Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, a former Congress leader, to negotiate with regional leaders and secure their support for government formation.
The Congress too sent its team of top leaders, including Ahmed Patel and Kamal Nath, to Shillong but the BJP had sealed the deal by then.
The NPP-led regional alliance managed to get the support of 34 MLAs and staked claim to form the government. NPP president and then Lok Sabha MP Conrad Sangma became the chief minister. Alexander Hek, one of the two BJP MLAs, was made a minister in the Meghalaya cabinet.
The Congress emerged as the single largest party in the 2017 assembly elections, with 17 seats in the 40-member assembly. It just needed four more MLAs to form the government.
The BJP finished second with 13 seats.
While senior Congress leader and in-charge of Goa, Digvijaya Singh, kept waiting for the party high command’s decision, the BJP was nimble-footed.
Led by Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari and then defence minister Manohar Parrikar, the BJP started negotiations with the two regional allies — Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and Goa Forward Party (GFP).
It was the negotiation skills of Gadkari and team that resulted in GFP, a party formed by Congress rebels, agreeing to join hands with the BJP. The GFP was very critical of the BJP during the elections.
But the BJP succeeded in sealing the deal and Parrikar was appointed the chief minister.
Digvijaya Singh later blamed the Congress for the Goa fiasco.
Like Goa, even the 2017 Manipur assembly election was an example of how the BJP outwitted the Congress to form its first government in the state despite not having the required numbers.
The BJP had won 21 seats in the 60-member assembly and the Congress 28 seats.
Himanta Biswa Sarma again played a crucial role in securing support of regional parties. Besides Sarma, two senior Union ministers — Piyush Goyal and Prakash Javadekar — also camped in the state, holding parleys.
The party announced former Congress leader N. Biren Singh, who had switched to the BJP, as the CM-designate.
After hectic negotiations, the BJP along with ally NPP’s four MLAs, five MLAs from regional parties and one Congress MLA, who defected to the BJP, met Governor Najma Heptullah to stake claim to form the government.
Singh became the first BJP CM of the state.
Arunachal Pradesh, 2014-16
Arunachal Pradesh is one of the best examples of BJP’s machinations.
In the 2014 assembly election, the Congress had formed the government after winning 44 seats in the 60-member assembly. The next two years saw many twists and turns.
Congress MLA Pema Khandu, son of two-term CM Dorjee Khandu, left the party with a group of rebel MLAs to form the People’s Party of Arunachal Pradesh (PPA), and joined the BJP-led North-East Democratic Alliance.
Khandu, however, returned to the Congress with the rebel MLAs, and took over as the CM in July 2016, replacing Nabam Tuki.
In September 2016, Khandu joined the PPA again, taking with him 43 of the 44 MLAs. A month later, he formally joined the BJP, taking with him 33 of the 43 MLAs. The PPA expelled him, but before the party could replace him as the CM, Khandu staked claim and formed government with the support of 33 MLAs.
In the 2019 assembly elections, the BJP got a majority on its own, winning 41 of the 60 seats and formed the government under Khandu. The Congress managed to get only four seats.