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MP Showdown


Madhya Pradesh is all set to witness high   drama in the assembly session that begins   on Monday with the Governor’s address. At stake, of course, is the Kamal Nath led Congress Government, technically in a minority with the resignation of 22 party MLAs. While, Nath and party leader Digvijay Singh are putting on a brave face, claiming that many of the rebels are willing to come back to the fold, the indications on the ground seem otherwise. All the (rapidly depleting) resources at the party’s command have been put at the CM’s disposal, including the expertise of former Uttarakhand CM Harish Rawat, who used legal stratagem to fend off a similar revolt among his MLAs.

It may be noted, however, that the BJP, too, has learned its lesson from the Uttarakhand experience and the more recent Maharashtra faux pas. Its primary objective will be to ensure that the rebels do not have to pay the price of ineligibility to contest re-election after submitting their resignations. While there are some who demand such punishment for ‘betraying’ the voters’ mandate, it would be excessive and, in actual fact, be a measure, technically, that suppresses the ‘voice of conscience’. Every legislator or parliamentarian has the fundamental right to seek a fresh mandate from the voters should he or she wish not to support the government. It must be noted that such a ‘sacrifice’ is not easily made.

The Congress in MP will be looking for technical reasons to avert the inevitable, as the numbers are against it should the rebels stick to their guns. It is unlike the situation in Uttarakhand, where the government still retained a majority, wafer thin though it was. MP Governor Lalji Tandon had asked CM Kamal Nath to face a floor test on 16 March, which would have precipitated the situation, but there was a turnaround and now he will address the assembly on that date. The majority will be decided on the basis of the motion of thanks for the Governor’s address. This gives Nath some extra time to perform whatever ‘miracle’ he can.

Whichever way it pans out, the inner power struggle within the present ruling party has created major instability in the state. The desire of the aged Kamal Nath and Digvijay Singh to protect their sons’ interests by sidelining Jyotiraditya Scindia has led to the present imbroglio. The failure of the party high command to resolve the issue is also being much commented upon. The repercussions of this are expected to be seen in states like Rajasthan and Maharashtra. Family and party loyalists will now be feeling the very source of their power drain away and will be looking for alternatives. In the present context, that leaves only one!