Bhopal: Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath resigned Friday, ending a ten-day-long political suspense and uncertainty in the state.
Making the announcement at a press conference in Bhopal Friday, Nath said, “Hum sab mil ka aane waali chunotiyo ka saamna karenge (Together, we will face the challenges ahead).”
Without naming Jyotiraditya Scindia, he blamed him for the fall of his government. “Twenty two of our MLAs were lured and kept hostage in Bengaluru. The entire nation has seen this. Together with a ‘Maharaj’ and his loyalist MLAs, the BJP hatched this conspiracy. The public will never forgive them.”
During his 15 months since the 2018 assembly elections, Nath said he “tried to put the state on track of development”, which the “BJP could not digest”.
His resignation clears the deck for the return of a BJP government, likely to be once again headed by Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
The Congress found itself on a shaky footing after 22 of its MLAs, including six ministers, resigned earlier this month. Considered to be Jyotiraditya Scindia loyalists, all 22 tendered their resignation soon after the former MP quit the Congress on 10 March and joined the BJP the next day.
Scindia announced his resignation from the Congress on the day of Holi, which also marked his father and late Congress leader Madhavrao Scindia’s 75th birth anniversary.
The political crisis dates back to 2018, when both Scindia and Kamal Nath wanted to lead the party in the state polls. However, the then Congress president Rahul Gandhi had opted for Nath. Many in the Congress attribute this crisis to Digvijaya Singh and his dislike for Scindia. In the battle for the CM post too, Singh had supported Nath.
The Congress had managed to come to power in Madhya Pradesh after a gap of 15 years.
The MP assembly has 230 seats, but two fell vacant following the death of the incumbent MLAs. Before the state plunged into a political crisis, the Congress had 114 MLAs and the BJP 107.
The Speaker had earlier accepted the resignations of the six ministers that had effectively reduced the strength of the House to 222 seats, bringing the majority mark down to 112.
However, after the Supreme Court ordered a floor test, the Madhya Pradesh Speaker accepted the resignations of the remaining 16 rebel Congress MLAs making the total strength of the assembly to fall to 206.
The strength came down further Friday after the Speaker accepted the resignation of BJP MLA Sharad Kaul ahead of the floor test.
The Congress was left with 92 MLAs. With the support of seven allied MLAs, one from SP, two from BSP and four independents, the number was 99.
The Congress, however, was still at least four MLAs short of the simple majority mark of 103 seats.
BJP set to stake claim to form government
The BJP has 106 MLAs in the House, three more than the simple majority mark.
Senior leaders of the party said they would now stake claim to form the government. While some of them said the decision of who would lead the state will be taken by the central leadership of the party, others said Shivraj Singh Chouhan was the first choice.
Many are also pushing for BJP leader and former minister Narottam Mishra as the CM candidate.
Madhya Pradesh witnessed high drama in the last one week with a series of letters being exchanged between the Governor and the CM, the Speaker, the BJP, the Congress and the rebel MLAs.
Attempts were made by the Congress to reach out to the rebel MLAs with senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh camping in Bengaluru. However, he was unable to meet or talk to them.
The rebel MLAs who were lodged at a resort in Bengaluru communicated through letters and videos released by them at regular intervals.
Resort politics was also at play with both the Congress and the BJP keeping their MLAs in different resorts.