Jyotiraditya Scindia resigns from Congress along with 19 MLAs, Madhya Pradesh government on brink of dramatic collapse

Bhopal: Former Union Minister and four-time parliamentarian Jyotiraditya Scindia resigned from the Congress on Tuesday morning, shortly after meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah at the Prime Minister’s residence in Delhi.
Sources have said he may join the BJP, either on Tuesday or on Saturday, and be nominated to the Rajya Sabha as its member.
Scindia’s move, which comes a day after 17 Congress MLAs loyal to him were flown by chartered plane to BJP-ruled Karnataka, has left the Madhya Pradesh government on the brink a dramatic collapse.
Sources within the Madhya Pradesh Raj Bhavan have said 19 Congress MLAs have already submitted letters of resignation. Sources had earlier said that 25 MLAs were ready to resign.
As of Tuesday morning the Kamal Nath government had 120 MLAs – just four over the majority mark of 116 in the 230-member assembly.
Should the resignations be accepted, the majority mark comes to 106; the BJP will have 107 and the Congress 97. The rest are held by the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party and independents.
Should the government fall, it will be the second since the Congress-JDS government in Karnataka last year and represent a major setback to a party already struggling for relevance after two successive routs in Lok Sabha polls.
In his letter, which is dated March 9 and is addressed to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Scindia said: “…this is a path that has been drawing itself out over the last year”.
“While my aim and purpose remain the same as it has always been from the very beginning, to serve the people of my state and country, I believe am unable to do this anymore within this party,” he wrote.
Minutes after he posted the letter on Twitter, the Congress reacted by expelling him for “anti-party activities”. A brief statement by KC Venugopal, the party General Secretary who rushed to meet Gandhi in the morning, said Scindia’s expulsion had been approved “with immediate effect.
The BJP, which has called its MLAs to Bhopal, will hold a meeting at a hotel in the city at 6 pm and is widely expected to stake claim to the government shortly. The party is likely to present former Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan as its chief ministerial candidate.
Former Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh told reporters there is a “conspiracy to topple the government” and accused Chouhan of “lying”.
Earlier on Tuesday Chouhan said his party was not interested in toppling the government and termed the developments as the “internal matter” of the ruling party.
Congress leaders Sachin Pilot and Karan Singh are leading reconciliation efforts with Jyotiraditya Scindia. Pilot, who is also Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister, tweeted: “I am hopeful the current crisis in MP ends soon and leaders are able to resolve differences”.
A formula had reportedly been offered to send him to the Rajya Sabha as the Congress’s first preference candidate, sources in Madhya Pradesh Congress told NDTV.
There has been no official confirmation of this.
Scindia, who was once close to the Gandhi family, has been unhappy with senior Congress leadership for some time now.
In December 2018 he was passed over chief ministership after he was able to show support from only 23 MLAs despite his contribution to the Congress’s victory in Madhya Pradesh after 15 years.
In August he was a surprise addition to a list of party leaders who openly supported the centre over its contentious decision to end special status for Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 and split it into two union territories.
The Congress had been unable to reach Scindia since the drama began on Monday, former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh said. This was after 17 MLAs loyal to Scindia were flown to BJP-ruled Karnataka in a chartered flight.
“We tried to contact Scindiaji (Jyotiraditya Scindia) but it is being said that he has swine flu, so haven’t been able to speak to him,” Singh said.