BHOPAL: Six rebel Congress MLAs from the Jyotiraditya Scindia camp were removed as cabinet ministers of the Congress government by the Madhya Pradesh Governor Lalji Tandon on Friday, just a few hours after the Chief Minister Kamal Nath met him, accusing the opposition BJP of indulging in horse-trading and holding 22 Congress MLAs in “captivity” to destabilize his government.
On March 10, the CM had written to the Governor seeking the removal of the six ministers -- Tulsi Silawat (health minister), Imarti Devi (women and child development minister), Pradumn Singh Tomar (food and civil supplies), Govind Singh Rajput (transport and revenue), Prabhuram Chaudhary (school education) and Mahendra Singh Sisodiya (labour) -- from the cabinet.
The six ministers are among the 22 Congress MLAs who had sent their resignation as legislators to the Vidhan Sabha Speaker and state Governor on March 10, pushing the 15-month-old Kamal Nath government into a deep crisis.
Hours before the 22 MLAs, including the six ministers, had resigned, the 22 remaining ministers of the Kamal Nath cabinet had handed over their resignations to the CM at an emergency cabinet meeting to enable him to reconstitute the council of ministers.
With the Governor stripping the six rebel Congress MLAs as ministers, their ministerial portfolios have been allotted among other cabinet ministers.
Earlier, the CM Kamal Nath met the Governor at the Raj Bhawan and handed over a three-page letter, accusing the BJP of being involved in horse-trading and holding the Congress MLAs in captivity. The meeting continued for around 45 minutes. In the letter, the CM also said he was ready for the floor test of his government during the Budget Session of the Vidhan Sabha starting March 16.
He also mentioned the sequence of events from the intervening night of March 3-4 to March 10 and claimed there were incidents of horse-trading during this period.
“In these disturbing circumstances, the very edifice of democracy is in danger. Trust of a transparent democratic process seems lost. It merits full investigations and enquiry, so that persons responsible for de-railing the democratic institutional process are exposed and punished,” the CM wrote in the letter,
The letter ended with the CM requesting the Governor to use his good office as the state’s constitutional head with the Union Home Minister to ensure the release of the MLAs held in 'captivity' in Bengaluru.
Later, talking to journalists, the CM said “Floor test will be held on the Governor’s address and budget during the budget session, but for that to happen, first the 22 MLAs need to be set free. If the MLAs are not held captive, why aren’t they being allowed to speak before the media independently.”
When queried about the possibility of the Vidhan Sabha budget session being postponed due to the rising coronavirus threat, the CM said, "Let’s first take care of the coronavirus in the politics here, the rest will be seen later.”
BJP leaders also meet Governor
Meanwhile, in a related development, senior BJP leaders, including ex-CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Jyotiraditya Scindia and union minister Narendra Singh Tomar, met the Governor, apprising him about the prevailing political situation in the state.
Informed BJP sources said that at the meeting with the Governor, which continued for around 15 minutes, the BJP leaders sought an early floor test as the Kamal Nath government has lost its majority in the Vidhan Sabha.
While the BJP wants a floor test on the first day of the Budget session on Monday before the Governor’s address, the Congress is demanding that the Speaker first decide the matter pertaining to the resignation of the 22 rebel MLAs, who should also be set free at the earliest.