All eyes on Madhya Pradesh Assembly proceedings: Suspense continues on vote of confidence

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For the past one week, after former Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia dumped the Congress and joined BJP and 22 Congress MLAs submitted their resignation, the political cauldron is boiling in Madhya Pradesh. The Budget session of Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly is beginning Monday, 16 March 2020, with Governor Lalji Tandon’s address.

Despite the Governor’s prior instruction to Chief Minister Kamal Nath that he should prove his majority in the Assembly on Monday after the Governor’s address, the business schedule circulated by the Assembly for the inaugural session has no mention of the vote of confidence.

There was hectic political activity throughout Sunday and also the intervening night of March 15 and 16.

Governor Lalji Tandon has written a letter to Assembly Speaker Narmada Prasad Prajapati, directing not to adjourn the assembly without taking up the motion of confidence vote in the opening day of the Budget Session.

Finishing touches before the Governor’s address

The Governor also wrote a letter to Chief Minister Kamal Nath saying he has been told that there is no system for the MLAs to cast their vote by pressing the button in Madhya Pradesh Assembly. So he has ordered that voting should be conducted by raising hands and not in any other way.

Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly Gopal Bhargava and BJP’s Chief Whip in Assembly Dr. Narottam Mishra met Governor Lalji Tandon late Sunday night and submitted a memorandum, underscoring that not mentioning floor test (vote of confidence) in the Assembly’s agenda was a gross violation of the Governor’s orders. The Governor assured them necessary action in this regard. While leaving Raj Bhawan, Gopal Bhargava, expressed dismay over non-inclusion of floor test in the Assembly’s agenda and described it as totally unconstitutional. The government is trying to avoid floor test, he added.

The Chief Minister Kamal Nath also met the Governor and later told media-persons that the Governor had called him. He said that he had informed the Governor that he was ready for the floor test and at the same time also urged that the MLAs who have been held hostage in Bengaluru should be released first. “I will talk to the Speaker tomorrow about the (floor test)”, he went on to observe.

Late on Sunday night former Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan said at a hurriedly-called press meet that the government has lost its majority, that is why they are running away from the floor test. They will ask for a no-confidence motion on Monday, he asserted.

Earlier on Sunday, the Congress MLAs who were putting up at a resort in Jaipur, returned to the State capital and the meeting of the Congress Legislator Party was held at the CM’s official residence.

The BJP MLA who were at a resort in Manesar, Gurgaon for last several days were also brought to Bhopal late on Sunday night. Till late Sunday night,but was uncertain whether the rebel Congress MLAs would come to Bhopal before the Assembly session begins on Monday or would abstain from voting.

In a significant development, 16 rebel Congress MLAs, who were in Bengaluru on Sunday – Jajpal Jajji, Brijendra Yadav, Ranveer Jatav, Kamlesh Jatav, Giriraj Dandotia, Manoj Chaudhary, OPS Bhadauria, Santram Saronia, Suresh Dhakad, Rajyavardhan Singh, Hardeep Singh Dung, and R Kansana – have written a letter to the Speaker, requesting that their resignations be accepted in the same manner as the resignations of the six Congress MLAs, who have been expelled from the Cabinet, have been accepted.

The Assembly Speaker has reiterated that he is waiting for the MLAs who have sent their resignations. Why they were not contacting him directly. He is worried about them. The situation raises questions on the prevailing state of democracy, he has observed.

Earlier on Sunday, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Shivraj Singh Chauhan met Amit Shah at his residence in Delhi. Amit Shah, according to sources, has kept PM Narendra Modi updated about the latest developments in Madhya Pradesh and is also keeping the Union Home Secretary in loop regarding the situation in the State.

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