Bhopal: The Supreme Court’s order to conduct a floor test in the Madhya Pradesh assembly before 5 pm Friday has caused jubilation in the BJP camp, while forcing the Kamal Nath government and the Congress into a huddle to explore further legal options.
Legislators from the Congress and BJP were glued to their television screens during the day Thursday, trying to get live updates of the Supreme Court proceedings.
Soon after the Supreme Court judgment, security was tightened outside the Madhya Pradesh assembly secretariat.
A dinner meeting with all Congress MLAs planned to be held at minister Sajjan Singh’s residence was first cancelled, and then restored, according to Congress sources. The meeting has been called at 10pm Thursday, and all the MLAs will be ferried from the hotel in buses, the sources said.
Nath himself announced on Twitter that they were examining the Supreme Court’s verdict. “Will consult them (legal experts) and then take decision,” he wrote.
A Congress leader who didn’t wish to be named added: “In the Karnataka matter, the rebel MLAs were asked to appear before the Speaker within 48 hours, but the SC has remained quiet on this issue as far as the 16 rebel Congress MLAs are concerned (the total number is 22, of which six have had their resignations accepted). The meeting will discuss all the legal options available and whether a review petition can be filed.
“We are in a positive mood. There are a number of legal options that are available and we will explore all,” said the leader.
It is still not clear what time the floor test will take place and whether there will be a live telecast of the proceedings. Former CM and senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, who was camping in Bengaluru, is expected to reach Bhopal by late night.
Buzz in the BJP camp
Meanwhile, former CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan of the BJP is also planning to hold a meeting to discuss the legal options available to them.
Welcoming the Supreme Court’s decision, Chouhan said: “The Congress government had made a mockery of democracy. We welcome the decision of the Supreme Court.”
Senior BJP leader and former minister Narottam Mishra said the BJP will stake claim after the floor test, which he is sure the Congress will lose.
“Inka corona ka rona bhi kaam nahi aaya (their corona excuse also didn’t work). Truth has prevailed. We respect the SC decision and are confident of forming the government. Let them face the floor test tomorrow,” he said.
Asked whether the 16 rebel MLAs whose resignations have not been accepted will also participate in the floor test, Mishra said: “They had said earlier too that if they are provided security, they will attend it. We have got nothing to do with it.”
Leader of the opposition Gopal Bhargav, meanwhile, said the rebel MLAs from the Jyotiraditya Scindia camp were welcome to join the BJP.
“If the 22 MLAs decide to join the BJP, they will be given complete respect. We welcome the decision of the SC. The BJP will decide who will be the legislative party leader,” he said.
BJP MLAs, who have been put up at a resort in Sehore near Bhopal, were informed that a meeting would take place later in the day. Both V.D. Sharma, the state BJP president, and Chouhan left for Bhopal soon after the SC order.
“Soon after the news flashed, BJP MLAs started cheering and then distributed sweets. We spent the day playing cricket and attending meetings,” one of the MLAs told ThePrint.
There has been speculation about the numerical strength of the Kamal Nath government since it was hit with 22 resignations, including those of six ministers, earlier this month.
While the resignations of the ministers have been accepted, those of the remaining 16 MLAs, who are lodged at the Ramada Hotel in Bengaluru, remain pending.
The MP assembly has 230 seats, but two fell vacant following the death of the incumbents. Before the current political crisis in the state, the Congress had 114 MLAs and the BJP 107.
The acceptance of the resignations of the six ministers has effectively reduced the strength of the house to 222 seats, and brought the majority mark down to 112.