BHOPAL: In a major development amid the deepening political crisis in Congress-ruled Madhya Pradesh, the Vidhan Sabha Speaker Narmada Prasad Prajapati accepted the resignations of six of the 22 rebel Congress MLAs (all six legislators were removed as ministers by the Governor) on Saturday evening.
Following this development, the total strength of the 230-member Vidhan Sabha shrunk to 222 (two seats were already vacant due to death of two legislators), where the Congress has 108 MLAs and support of seven allied legislators, that takes their total number to 115, which is two more than the simple majority figure of 113 in 222-member House.
The BJP on the other hand with 107 members is six short of the simple majority figure.
Explaining his decision, the Assembly Speaker Narmada Prasad Prajapati, said, all the six MLAs, including Govind Singh Rajput, Mahendra Singh Sisodiya, Prabhuram Chaudhary, Pradumn Tomar, Tulsi Ram Silawat, Imarti Devi were among those legislators who had resigned from the Vidhan Sabha on March 10.
“But since the information about these resignations wasn’t rendered to me in person, hence as per Rule 276 (1-B) of the MP Vidhan Sabha Procedure and Business Conduct Rules, the concerned members were asked to appear before me in my Vidhan Sabha office to establish that they had actually resigned as legislators on their own,” said Prajapati.
“They were first given time to appear before me between 3.30 pm and 6 pm on Friday, but they failed to appear during that time frame, after which they were given another opportunity to appear before me in my office between 12.15 pm and 2.45 pm on Saturday. But they again failed to turn up. All six members have already been removed as ministers from the council of ministers by the State’s Governor on Friday. Also, their conduct in the wake of their statements in electronic media seems surprising, owing to which they aren’t competent to remain, members of the Vidhan Sabha,” the Speaker mentioned in his order.
“Hence in line with Rule 276 of MP Vidhan Sabha House Procedure and Business Conduct Rules, the resignations of the six MLAs from Vidhan Sabha membership are accepted with effect from March 10,” the Speaker added.
The Speaker also ruled out postponement of the Vidhan Sabha Budget Session starting from Monday due to the Coronavirus threat. “All I can tell you right now is that everyone coming to the Vidhan Sabha during the Budget Session will have to wear a mask and clean their hands with sanitizer before coming into the House.”
Ruling Congress issued whip to its MLAs to be present in the House and vote in favour of the government during the Vidhan Sabha budget session starting March 16 (Monday).
The Leader of Opposition, Gopal Bhargava, accused the Assembly Speaker of being afflicted with a dual mindset and acting impartially.
"If the handwritten resignations of six MLAs have been accepted, why are similar resignations of 16 other MLAs, who also resigned on March 10, not being accepted?" he asked.
Earlier on Friday, the six MLAs were sacked as ministers by the Governor Lalji Tandon on the recommendation of Chief Minister Kamal Nath.
Importantly, the 22 MLAs, including the six ministers – 20 of them being Jyotiraditya Scindia loyalists – had resigned from Vidhan Sabha membership on March 10, the day when Scindia quit Congress after 18 years association. He joined the BJP a day later.
Political observers in Bhopal believed that following the Assembly Speaker’s decision to accept the resignation of six out of the 22 rebel Congress MLAs, the Congress will be in an advantageous position, as it can now put pressure on the remaining 16 MLAs to fall in line or face a similar consequence.
Since many of the remaining rebel MLAs won’t like to face re-election through a by-election, hence there is a possibility of them returning to parent party fold on or before the Vidhan Sabha’s Budget Session starts on Monday.