Kamal Nath-led Congress government in Madhya Pradesh gets 10-day break over coronavirus; BJP approaches Supreme Court

Bhopal: The Kamal Nath-led Congress government in Madhya Pradesh scored a 10-day reprieve on Monday as the assembly session was adjourned without an anticipated trust vote until March 26 over coronavirus, after a one-minute address by Governor Lalji Tandon. The opposition BJP, which is confident of overthrowing the ruling Congress, has gone to the Supreme Court.
The Governor in the morning walked out of the assembly amid slogans of “respect the house” after he read out only the last page of his traditional address on the opening day of the budget session and urged the Congress to “follow the Constitution”.
“All must follow the rules under the Constitution so that dignity of Madhya Pradesh remains protected,” said the Governor, who had written to the Speaker to hold a test of strength on Monday for the 15-month-old Kamal Nath government, which is in huge trouble after the rebellion of a group of MLAs loyal to Jyotiraditya Scindia.
Long after the Governor’s walkout, the MLAs of the government and the opposition BJP remained inside, shouting slogans at each other. As they walked out, the BJP MLAs sang: “Hum Honge Kaamyab…”
The Congress, desperate for survival, has asked for the assembly to be suspended over coronavirus. Many of its MLAs entered the house wearing masks.
Kamal Nath has written to the Governor calling his letter directing a trust vote unconstitutional and asserting that it “does not lie within the domain of the Governor to interfere with the functions of the Speaker”.
The resignation of 22 Congress MLAs has brought the state government on the brink of collapse. The MLAs, who flew to Bengaluru in BJP-ruled Karnataka, are expected to follow Jyotiraditya Scindia into the BJP; the long-time Congress leader made the stunning switch last week, complaining that the party was “not what it was before”. The four-time MP had been seething in resentment for months, without any government or party post in Madhya Pradesh after the Congress won state polls in December 2018.
Only six of the 22 resignations have been accepted by the Speaker.
The Congress claims the rebels have been kept captive in Bengaluru and is desperate for more time to establish contact with them and possibly, win them back.
On the weekend, the Chief Minister even wrote to Home Minister Amit Shah requesting “help” to free the “kidnapped” MLAs.
After a meeting with the Governor that ran past midnight, Kamal Nath told journalists that the Speaker would take a call on Monday’s voting.
In his letter, Nath said to the Governor: “The Governor cannot require the Speaker to discharge his functions in the manner he considers constitutionally appropriate.”
The Madhya Pradesh assembly currently has 222 of 230 members and the majority mark is 112. The Congress has 108 MLAs in the House, and the support of seven allied legislators. If the resignations of all 22 MLAs are accepted, the Congress’s strength will come way below the new majority mark of 104, and the BJP, with 107 MLAs, can form government.
With every vote becoming crucial, there was a commotion when an independent MLA, Shera Bhaiya, was seen sitting with the BJP MLAs.
Kamal Nath’s government initially had 120 MLAs – just four over the majority mark of 116 in the full assembly.
In case the government does not initiate a trust vote, the opposition can move a “no confidence motion” against the government.