Bhopal: Members of the Madhya Pradesh assembly, cutting across party lines, appear to be having a whale of a time as both the Congress and the BJP have put a premium on their loyalty. With the chief ministerial chair on the political sweepstakes, these MLAs have seldom had it so good.
As the country remains glued to the unfolding political drama in Madhya Pradesh, these lawmakers are virtually under the protective custody of the parties that seem unsure about their loyalty.
So, there are three groups of MLAs lodged at three different locations — Bengaluru, Bhopal and Sehore.
As many as 22 “rebel” Congress MLAs are at a luxury resort in Bengaluru, the capital of BJP-ruled Karnataka.
Although they are known to be loyalists of Congress-turned-BJP leader Jyotiraditya Scindia, the BJP wouldn’t risk their loyalty by bringing them to Bhopal or even allowing them to switch on their phones.
So, for the past week, they have been chatting among themselves, watching the impact of their rebellion on TV and playing cricket to idle away their time, according to sources.
Meanwhile in Sehore, some 45 km away from Bhopal, a group of 106 BJP MLAs is spending their time doing yoga, swimming, going for spas, watching movies, sources added.
“It’s like a small get together. All the MLAs sit together and chat. They have their breakfast, lunch and dinner together. A few meetings are also held by senior leaders and to spend time, most opt for the spa. The swimming pool is also available in the resort. Many also did yoga Tuesday,” said a BJP source.
Meetings being held at Sehore resort
Unlike the 22 “rebel” MLAs, those in Sehore have access to their mobile phones. However, they have been asked to remain cooped up at the resort until the floor test.
The 106 BJP legislators, who were staying in Gurugram since 10 March, returned to Bhopal last Sunday night. They reached Sehore Monday night.
The BJP had earlier decided to shift them back to Gurugram. But, a second BJP source said, due to some logistical issues, it couldn’t happen.
However, according to a third BJP source, it was decided to keep the MLAs near Bhopal as the governor had asked the Kamal Nath government to conduct a floor test on 17 March.
The source said former Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan had reached the resort at around 10.30 pm Monday. He held a meeting with the MLAs Tuesday morning and left for Bhopal in the afternoon.
Due to strict security arrangements, no one is allowed to enter the resort.
According to a BJP spokesperson, top party leaders are giving the MLAs training at the resort on how to conduct themselves, among other things.
Congress MLAs shopping & watching movies
As many as 88 Congress MLAs, who are staying at a five-star hotel in Bhopal, are also spending their time by watching movies, going to the spa, and some legislators were even allowed to go outside for shopping.
“It’s easier to manage such a big number. In case there’s a meeting or if all of them are required for the floor test, we can communicate with them easily,” said a Congress leader.
Congress ministers are not staying at the hotel with the MLAs as they are busy conducting government meetings.
In Jaipur, Congress MLAs watched folk dance
While the BJP had shifted its MLAs to a hotel in Gurugram on 10 March itself, the Congress initially kept its MLAs at a hotel in Jaipur.
During their stay in Jaipur, Congress MLAs spent their time watching ‘Kalbelia dance’, a popular Rajasthani folk dance, said party sources in Jaipur.
“It was like a small break for the MLAs. They enjoyed Rajasthani food, and its folk music and dance. We had not imposed any prohibition on them on using their phones unlike the BJP,” said a Congress leader.
All the Congress MLAs came to Bhopal to attend the assembly session last week, which was adjourned following the coronavirus scare Monday.
To attend the House session Monday, MLAs of both the Congress and BJP came in buses, including Chouhan, and not in their personal vehicles.
The Congress MLAs will remain at the Bhopal hotel Tuesday too as the Supreme Court asked the Kamal Nath government to reply by Wednesday to a plea filed by Chouhan and other BJP MLAs.
The plea sought a direction to the Kamal Nath-led Congress government to undertake the floor test in the assembly to prove its majority.
Chouhan and others moved the Supreme Court Monday just after Speaker N.P. Prajapati raised coronavirus concerns and adjourned the House until March 26 without taking the floor test as was directed by Governor Lalji Tandon.