BHOPAL:The developments in Karnataka and Goa cast their shadow over the government in Madhya Pradesh but the ruling coalition led by the Congress and comprising BSP, SP and Independents has managed well so far.
But the road ahead for the Congress is likely to be bumpy as it has to find a replacement for Kamal Nath as PCC chief. The factional friction is palpable. The organisational issues at the national level are bound to have a bearing on the state.
Congress ascended to power in Madhya Pradesh in December last year, riding a half-hearted mandate. Chronic factionalism had kept it out of power for 15 years.
In the MP Assembly elections, the Congress won 114 seats in a House of 230, a slim lead over BJP which bagged 108 seats. The Congress was helped by four independents, two BSP legislators and one Samajwadi Party MLA in forming the government.
Barely five months after it made a comeback to power, the party frittered away all the advantage by losing in the general elections comprehensively. If it could sustain the gains of the assembly elections the party should have won at least five more Lok Sabha seats. Instead, it ended up losing all but one seat out of 29.
The defeat had cast doubts about the survival of the government. But Kamal Nath brought into play the composure needed for such critical moments. As of now, the Congress here has worked on three fronts to insulate its government in the state from problems like witnessed in Karnataka. This was evident in the Assembly session.
The Congress leaders realised the slender majority is no guarantee for survival in times of "rampant wholesale trade" of MLAs seen in Goa and Karnataka. They conducted several lunch and dinner meetings with the party members as well as coalition partners.
The bonding exercises seemed to have worked amidst BJP's plans to destabilise the Kamal Nath government by seeking a division of vote on budget demands in the Assembly.
The Congress leaders foiled that by alerting the legislators against the opposition ambushes during the assembly session. The tension in the treasury benches was palpable. Finally, BJP sensed the time was not ripe to precipitate the issue.
Another front on which the Congress worked was to keep the flock together by promising to fill up vacancies on various corporations and boards to keep the legislators "engaged".
The Congress' balancing acts included keeping the BSP in good humour even if it came to defending tainted persons like Govind Singh Thakur, the husband of BSP legislator Rambai Thakur, wanted in the murder case of a senior Congress leader Devendra Chaurasia.
The furore over his presence in the Assembly embarrassed the ruling party as the government had even dropped the Rs 25,000 award announced on the arrest of Thakur who was seen sauntering in the assembly premises.
The Congress even dared the BJP to seek a division of votes in the Legislative Assembly if it has "courage" or stop spreading "misinformation" about them.