Former Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia has quit the Indian National Congress — the INC expelled him minutes after receiving his resignation letter — while 20 MLAs loyal to him have resigned too. With the decision of Scindia, the government of Kamal Nath in Madhya Pradesh is in the doldrums. Here is how the ‘coup’ was engineered in the residence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Scindia drove alone from his house on Tuesday morning to meet Union Home Minister Amit Shah at the Gujarat Bhavan. Shah took him in his car and reached the residence of Prime Minister Modi on Lok Kalyan Marg.
Scindia reached the prime minister’s house at around 10:45 AM. His meeting with Modi lasted about an hour. After the meeting, Shah saw off Scindia in his car.
Shortly after leaving Prime Minister’s Modi’s house, Scindia posted his registration letter on Twitter. Although this letter was dated 9 March, it was made public today.
Scindia planned it in Vadodara — at in-laws’ place
Jyotiraditya’s wife Priyadarshini Raje Scindia hails from Vadodara in Gujarat. She is from the family of the princely state of Maratha Gaekwads while her mother is from the Nepal royal family. Jyotiraditya and Priyadarshini had got married on 12 December 1994. Since then, Jyotiraditya has had deep connections with Gujarat, the home turf of Prime Minister Modi and Home Minister Shah.
Scindia was in Vadodara in November 2019, where the plan of his leaving the INC germinated. All his family members were unanimous in their support to the decision taken in consultation with the Maharaja of Baroda Samarjitsinh Gaekwad.
Reportedly, the Maharaja, who is known to be close to the prime minister, told Scindia the INC had given him a raw deal and that it did not behove his blue blood to play second fiddle to Kamal Nath. Gaekwad had touched a raw nerve. Scindia and his in-laws decided together he had had enough of the Congress.
At the same time, the INC was under the impression that Scindia was in Vadodara for party work, as the high command had given him the responsibility of Vadodara and adjoining constituencies. The party never got a whiff of the minutes of his meeting with the Baroda Maharaja.
What Scindia wrote in the letter
Scindia, resigning from the primary membership of the INC through a letter addressed to interim president of the party Sonia Gandhi, said that he had come into politics for public service and could not do so while staying in the INC for years together.
Resignation of MLAs loyal to Scindia, those from SP, BSP; Congress puts up brave front
As soon as Scindia resigned, the INC expelled him from the party. Meanwhile, the MLAs of the Scindia camp who have been in a resort in Karnataka for the past few days tendered their resignations.
Till now, 20 MLAs who had been with the Kamal Nath government have resigned. Those of the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party are following suit. They reached Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s house.
MLAs Rajesh Shukla and Sanjeev Kushwaha met with ‘Mamaji’ and, sources said, told him that if the BJP tried to form a government, they would lend their support to it.
Chouhan, of course, wouldn’t make it public. He said that both had come to meet him for Holi. “Please do not draw political meanings out the meeting,” he told the media.
Some of the INC MLAs are, however, joining the BJP. In the midst of all these developments, the INC is putting up a brave front, claiming there is no threat to the Kamal Nath government.
INC politician Kantilal Bhuria has claimed after meeting Chief Minister Kamal Nath that the state government is safe. He said that the Kamal Nath government would complete its tenure in Madhya Pradesh. “We have the numbers,” he claimed.
INC’s confidence unfounded
Bhuria’s claim is rich, given that, in the 230-member state assembly, the BJP had 107 seats and INC 92. Kamal Nath could form his government because SP’s lone MLA, BSP’s two and four Independents supported him while 24 seats are vacant. With the INC’s number reduced to 72 and the support of SP and BSP gone, the government cannot continue.
With the resignation of these MLAs, the entire mathematics of the Madhya Pradesh assembly has changed. It is doubtful whether the INC government can now survive a floor test.
However, if the BJP brings in a no-confidence motion, what is not clear at this point is whether it will offer outside support to a government led by Scindia, make a government with Scindia and his loyalists as BJP’s own MLAs or claim a majority with Scindia and his MLAs’ outside support or alliance. The second option will have to take into consideration the anti-defection law and, therefore, is the least likely.