By Anindya Banerjee
New Delhi, March 14 (IANS) The rebel Congress legislators from Madhya Pradesh have refused to return to their home state, and chances are they may not return for another week, say BJP sources.
“Party (BJP) leadership is not keen to have the rebel MLAs return to Madhya Pradesh before Kamal Nath government proves its majority,” claims the source.
The Budget session that will begin on March 16 will go on till April 13. But the source insists the BJP hopes to see either a trust vote or the appropriation Bill defeated in the first week of the session itself, which ends on Friday, March 20.
Out of the 22 rebel MLAs, 13 have been issued notices by the Madhya Pradesh Assembly speaker N.P. Prajapati, asking them to present themselves. None of them has turned up. On Friday, it was speculated that 13 MLAs would take a flight back home via Delhi, which never happened. The plan is believed to have been dropped at the last minute.
Though everyone in the BJP insists that all the 22 MLAs (19 of whom are in Bengaluru) are staying voluntarily, the party doesn’t appear keen to let them return to Madhya Pradesh for another week, lest they change their minds.
It all boils down to the numbers game which is way bigger than the Rajya Sabha election scheduled on March 26, where the voting is necessary.
In the MP assembly, two of the 230 seats are vacant, which brings the total count of MLAs to 228. Of these, 114 are from Congress, 107 from BJP, two from BSP, one from SP and four others are independents.
Given that the 22 Congress MLAs have resigned, the Congress has only 92 MLAs left. Even if the Congress manages the support of SP, BSP and 4 Independent MLAs, its MLA tally can only reach 99.
If all of the 22 rebel MLAs stay out on the day of the trust vote or appropriation bill, if and when, the House strength will come down to 206 instead of 228. That would effectively mean that the majority mark will also dip to 104. While the BJP hasn’t lost any MLA, so far, keeping its number of MLAs 107 intact, the Congress tally will be 99, at best, and 92 at worst.
To keep the arithmetic work for the BJP, it is important that all the 22 MLAs stay out of Madhya Pradesh assembly on D-Day. “The best way to ensure that is to keep them away from the state. And let me tell you frankly, none of the 19 in Bengaluru is complaining,” claims the BJP source.
Now, the Kamal Nath government needs to get the appropriation bill passed. If it fails to do so, the government automatically loses its legitimacy to carry on, says P.D.T. Achary, former Secretary General of the Lok Sabha. Otherwise the provision of bringing a no-confidence motion is always available to the BJP, which now has former Congressman Jyotiraditya Scindia by its side to amplify BJP’s anti-Kamal Nath barbs outside the House.
The BJP hopes the litmus test of Kamal Nath government will be over by March 20.
The source insists that it’s highly unlikely that the rebel MLAs would move back to Madhya Pradesh anytime before March 20.
(Anindya Banerjee can be contacted at [email protected])