Leaving nothing to chance amid fears of cross-voting, the Congress on Friday packed its 54 MLAs in Madhya Pradesh on a bus with former chief minister Kamal Nath, who shed his motorcade, to be taken for voting in Rajya Sabha elections.
The votes of these MLAs are needed to make party veteran Digvijaya Singh victorious in the upper house elections as the Congress’ first preference candidate.
The election is a crucial test of the flock’s strength, coming three months after a rebellion by 22 MLAs brought down the Kamal Nath government.
As the party’s first preference candidate, Digvijaya Singh needed votes of 52 MLAs to win in what seemed a cakewalk on paper. But after allies BSP, SP and Independents switched loyalties and were seen supporting the BJP, several party Congress MLAs too appeared to be dithering during mock polls, forcing the party to reserve two extra votes for Singh.
Several party MLAs were also seen making mistakes in the mock polls organised in Bhopal. Those absent on the first day of the mock polls includes Digvijaya Singh’s brother Laxman Singh, who attended on Thursday instead.
On Friday, as the party dispatched 54 MLAs to the assembly in a bus, Kamal Nath took the front seat, ditching plans to follow in a motorcade.
The remaining 38 MLAs were at Nath’s residence and preparing to leave for the assembly. Senior leaders like PC Sharma and Jitu Patwari were present with the MLAs.
“We are winning one seat which was evident since our 22 MLAs left. The BJP shall win the second seat, but it’s all because of conspiracy,” Nath told reporters at the assembly.
Countering the Congress, state home minister Narottam Mishra said the BJP has comfortable numbers to seal wins on two seats.
The Congress has fielded Digvijaya Singh and Phool Singh Baraiya, while the BJP had nominated Jyotiraditya Scindia and RSS functionary Sumer Singh Solanki for the Rajya Sabha.
The Congress has 92 MLAs in the Assembly, the BJP has 107, BSP has 2 and the SP has one. The House also has four Independents. The BSP, SP and Independents had extended outside support to the Kamal Nath government which eventually fell. Now, barring a couple of Independents, they have sided with the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government.