Two BJP MLAs cross vote with Kamal Nath government before jumping to Congress fold

Congress MLAs are not for sale, said CM Kamal Nath amid reports that BJP may turn its guns on Madhya Pradesh where it lost power to the Congress.

Published: 24th July 2019 07:09 PM  |   Last Updated: 24th July 2019 08:55 PM   |  A+A-

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath along with two BJP MLAs Narayan Tripathi and Sharad Kaul speaks to media person in the State Assembly during the monsoon session in Bhopal Wednesday July 24 2019. | PTI

By Express News Service

BHOPAL: Two days before the budget session of Madhya Pradesh Vidhan Sabha was slated to conclude, the politics of the central Indian state witnessed dramatic political development on Wednesday, with two opposition BJP MLAs cross-voting in favour of the Dand Vidhi (Madhya Pradesh Sansodhan) Bill.

The two BJP MLAs, Narayan Tripathi (Maihar) and Sharad Kol (Beohari) – both hailing from the Vindhya region, which was swept by BJP in 2018 assembly polls and the 2019 general elections) – while praising the leadership of CM Kamal Nath, later dubbed the development as Ghar Vapasi (homecoming) before journalists.

Though the BJP leadership in the Vidhan Sabha led by Leader of Opposition demanded that the signs of the two BJP MLAs on the voting slips be probed, the Assembly Speaker adjourned the House sine die -- two days before the session was officially slated to end.

The sudden political development caught the BJP by surprise, just a few hours after the Leader of Opposition and eight-time BJP legislator Gopal Bhargava had said during the Zero Hour in the House that “the Congress government won’t last even 24 hours, if our top two leaders (No. 1 and No. 2) gave us the necessary orders.”

The Chief Minister Kamal Nath had responded to Bhargava’s threats by daring him to move a no-confidence motion in the House on Wednesday only. The CM had shot back, saying “your No. 1 and No.2 are sensible, that is why they are not giving such orders. You’re free to bring a no-confidence motion today itself.”

The sudden political development in Madhya Pradesh assumed more significance, as it happened just a day after the Congress-JD(U) government in Karnataka crashed in the trust vote on Tuesday.

The dramatic political development in the MP Vidhan Sabha happened towards the end of the day over the passage of Dand Vidhi (Madhya Pradesh Sansodhan) Bill.

Sanjeev Singh, one of two BSP MLAs supporting the Congress government, demanded the division of votes over the passage of the amendment bill. While the Congress backed the demand, the BJP demanded that the bill be passed by voice vote and didn’t participate in voting.

The House subsequently went ahead with the division of votes and results were shocking for the BJP as the amendment bill was passed with 122 votes in favour, two more than the collective Congress and allied legislator’s strength of 120.

Later, it came to the fore that two BJP MLAs, Narayan Tripathi (Maihar-Satna) and Sharad Kol (Beohari-Shahdol) crossed voted in favour of the bill, even as their party didn’t participate in the voting process.

Both, Narayan Tripathi and Sharad Kol who were with the Congress in the past described the move as “ghar vapasi” (homecoming).

Flanked by the two legislators who deserted the BJP in the voting on the amendment bill, CM Kamal Nath later said outside the House, “Since the Congress came to power in the state, the BJP has been regularly threatening to pull down the government. I asked them in the House to bring no-confidence motion today, but they didn't. We’ve finally proved how strong the government is.”

The MP mining minister Pradeep Jaiswal (one of the four independent MLAs supporting the government) claimed that at least three more BJP MLAs are ready to switch over to the Congress fold in the coming days.

Both the BJP MLAs who voted with the Congress and allies over the passage of the amendment bill also made it clear that they don’t fear contesting by-polls after being disqualified or quitting from house membership.

Importantly, the Congress had won 114 seats (two short of the simple majority of 116) in the 230 member Vidhan Sabha in 2018 assembly polls against BJP’s 109 seats.

The Congress had formed the government in December 2018 with support of four independent MLAs (all Congress rebels), two BSP MLAs and one SP MLA, taking their collective strength to 121.

With the Assembly Speaker not voting over the passage of amendment bill, the ruling coalition’s collective strength was at 120 in the 229 member house on Wednesday.

Both the rebel BJP MLAs left the House after the development along with Congress MLA from Bhopal Madhya seat Arif Masood to an undisclosed place.

Unconfirmed reports said the two rebel BJP MLAs are likely to have dinner with CM Kamal Nath later in the evening.

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