BHOPAL: In a curious political development amid reports of infighting in the Madhya Pradesh Congress and allegations of poaching, senior Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia and at least 17 MLAs who are believed to be supporting him suddenly became 'incommunicado' on Monday ahead of the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections.
According to reports, all the 17 Congress MLAs, including five ministers, are currently in Bengaluru and their phones are switched off.
The development came against the backdrop of the ruling party accusing the BJP of trying to poach its MLAs to topple the Kamal Nath-led government, which enjoys a wafer-thin majority in the House, and imminent expansion of the state Cabinet.
Chief Minister Kamal Nath who was in Delhi earlier in the day has returned to Bhopal after cutting short his visit, sources said.
While calls made to Scindia by PTI remained unanswered, mobile phones of at least six ministers who are supporters of the Guna royal are switched off.
The ministers whose mobile phones are switched off included health minister Tulsi Silavat, labour minister Mahendra Singh Sisodia, transport minister Govind Singh Rajput, women and child development minister Imarti Devi, food and civil supplies minister Pradyumna Singh Tomar and school education minister Dr Prabhura Choudhary.
When contacted for his reaction on the development, a Congress spokesman said there is nothing "serious".
Earlier in the day, a section of Congress leaders demanded that Priyanka Gandhi Vadra be nominated from the state for the upcoming Rajya Sabha polls.
Scindia and Nath have fallen out over the post of the state Congress president, which is currently held by the chief minister.
Nath had left for Delhi on Sunday night to meet top Congress leaders to discuss the current political situation in the state and nominations for the Rajya Sabha polls scheduled on March 26.
The Rajya Sabha terms of Congress veteran Digvijay Singh, and BJP leaders Prabhat Jha and Satyanarayan Jatiya will end on April 9.
As per the arithmetic in the 230-member Madhya Pradesh Assembly, the two parties are sure to win one Rajya Sabha seat each, but a tussle is likely for the third seat.
While the Congress has 114 MLAs, the opposition BJP has 107 legislators.
Four Independent MLAs, two lawmakers of the Bahujan Samaj Party and one legislator of the Samajwadi Party are supporting the Congress-led state government.
Two seats are vacant following the demise of a Congress and a BJP legislator. The political drama in the state began last week when ten Congress MLAs from Madhya Pradesh went 'missing'.
The party pointed fingers at the BJP, which denied any role in it.
Since then, eight of the 'missing' legislators have returned and expressed their support to the ruling party in the state.
(With agency inputs)