Moments after meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the national capital on Tuesday, 10 March, disgruntled Congress leader and former Guna MP Jyotiraditya Scindia tendered his resignation to party president Sonia Gandhi saying it was now time for him to move on.
Gandhi immediately expelled him from the Congress for anti-party activities, as the crisis looming over the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh deepened.
"The Congress president has approved the expulsion of Jyotiraditya Scindia from the Indian National Congress with immediate effect for anti-party activities," according to a statement from AICC general secretary K C Venugopal.
Noting that the events of the day had been drawing themselves out for a year, Scindia wrote to Gandhi saying that it was now best for him to look at a fresh start.
"Having been a primary member of the Congress party for the last 18 years. It is now time for me to move on. I am tendering my resignation from primary membership of the Congress and as you well know this is a path that has been drawing itself out over the last year," Scindia wrote in his letter.
20 Cong MLAs Resign Following Scindia’s Lead
22 MLAs of Madhya Pradesh, who were present at the meeting with Chief Minister Kamal Nath, have also tendered their resignations on Monday, 9 March, reported ANI.
Senior BJP leader Bhupendra Singh reached Bhopal on Tuesday afternoon, carrying with him resignation letters of 19 Congress MLAs who are lodged at a resort in Bengaluru.
The chief minister was on Monday engaged in troubleshooting after several lawmakers, including ministers, supporting Jyotiraditya Scindia flew to Bengaluru amid intensification of factionalism in the ruling party ahead of Rajya Sabha polls.
Amid the drama, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi reached Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi's residence at 10 Janpath late at night on Monday.
Seventeen legislators, including six ministers in the Kamal Nath government on Monday, kept their phones switched off.
Crisis Ahead of Cabinet Expansion
As his government appeared to be on a sticky wicket, Nath, who met Congress president Sonia Gandhi in Delhi to discuss the political situation as well as nominees for the Rajya Sabha election, cut short his visit and returned to Bhopal on Monday night, where he went into a huddle with Digvijay Singh and other senior leaders at his residence, before calling a cabinet meeting at around 10 pm.
The official handle of Madhya Pradesh Congress tweeted, “In the cabinet meeting held at the Chief Minister's residence today, the ministers submitted their collective resignations to Chief Minister Kamal Nath. The ministers have requested Chief Minister Kamal Nath to restructure the cabinet.”
This incident came amid intense speculation about a possible revolt by a faction led by senior leader Jyotiraditya Scindia who, along with at least 17 legislators, went incommunicado.
Number Game in MP Congress
With 20 MLAs of Madhya Pradesh resigning from the Kamal Nath led government and if these MLAs who are backing Jyotiraditya Scindia withdraw support from the Madhya Pradesh government, this would create ruckus in the Congress party.
Seats required to form government as per current strength: 114
The total strength of MP Assembly is currently 230.
And currently vacant seats stand at 2
Legislator(s) who are under suspension is at one.
So, the current strength of the assembly is at 227.
If the BJP wants to topple the government they must ensure 14 MLAs from the Congress or their allies resign.
Congress Strength in MP
Congress’ current strength in Madhya Pradesh assembly is 114, while BJP stands at 107.
Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samajwadi Party have one seat each.
Meanwhile, the Independent candidates have four seats.
The Kamal Nath government is facing an alleged poaching bid ahead of the Rajya Sabha polls, scheduled on 26 March.
Labour Minister Sisodiya, a staunch supporter of Scindia, on 6 March, said the ruling dispensation will face a crisis if it "neglects and disrespects" senior party leader Jyotiraditya Scindia.
With 114 MLAs and support from Independent MLAs, the Congress has a wafer thin majority in the 230-member Assembly where the simple majority mark is 115. The BJP has 107 members.
“BJP is doing this politics of pressure. But I would definitely say that Kamal Nath ji’s government will face a crisis only when it neglects and disrespects our leader Jyotiraditya Scindia. Black clouds will certainly descend on the Madhya Pradesh government then.”Mahendra Singh Sisodia, in a video statement
Scindia has often taken on the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh, a move considered an outcome of the friction within the state unit.
He had, last month, threatened to take to the streets if the Madhya Pradesh government led by his party, failed to meet the demands of protesting guest teachers. Chief Minister Kamal Nath had later virtually dared him to do so.
On 3 March, political drama unfolded late at night in the state, with the Congress claiming that the Opposition BJP took eight MLAs to a hotel in Haryana as part of a conspiracy to topple the Kamal Nath-led government. On 5 March, the Congress held a press conference in New Delhi, in which it claimed that the BJP "kidnapped 14 MLAs" to bring down its government in Madhya Pradesh, NDTV reported.
However, the BJP attributed the entire political drama to internal bickering of the Congress, saying the party had nothing to do with it.
Parties Call for Meeting on Tuesday
Both Congress and BJP have called a meeting of its MLAs on Tuesday, 10 March.
Madhya Pradesh Congress Legislative Party meeting will take place on Tuesday evening, ANI reported.
While factionalism has reared its head again in the Congress, the BJP is also having anxious moments because of a few legislators.
The BJP MLAs meeting will begin at 6 pm, PTI reported quoting a BJP functionary.
BJP MLA Narayan Tripathi had frequented Nath's residence last week and had, along with another legislator Sharad Kol, missed the saffron party's meet on 3 March. Tripathi and Kol had gone against the party and voted in favour of a Congress-sponsored bill in the state Assembly in July last year.
(With inputs from PTI, ANI, NDTV and News18)