'Congress not same as before': Jyotiraditya Scindia joins BJP amid political crisis in Madhya Pradesh; both parties whisk away MLAs to avoid poaching - LiveNow24x7: Latest News, breaking news, 24/7 news,live news

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Wednesday, 11 March 2020

'Congress not same as before': Jyotiraditya Scindia joins BJP amid political crisis in Madhya Pradesh; both parties whisk away MLAs to avoid poaching

Jyotiraditya Scindia was inducted into the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday after he resigned from the Congress, resulting in the Congress-ruled Madhya Pradesh government facing a threat to its majority as 22 loyalist MLAs followed suit.

With the state government under Kamal Nath tottering precariously, on Wednesday, both parties scrambled to send their legislators away from the state capital amid fears of poaching in both camps.

While the Congress herded about 90 of its legislators to resorts near Jaipur, the state's Opposition BJP sent its MLAs to a luxury hotel in Gurgaon.

And 19 of those who resigned and whose letters were taken to the speaker by the BJP are secluded in a hotel in Bengaluru.

India’s future secure under Narendra Modi: Scindia

As the number crunching intensified and resort politics played out in 'friendly states' — Rajasthan is ruled by the Congress and Haryana and Karnataka by the BJP — Scindia formally joined the BJP in the presence of party president JP Nadda and said the country's future is secure in the hands of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Jyotiraditya Scindia joined the BJP in presence of JP Nadda on Wednesday. PTI

Scindia, 49, the proverbial centre of the political storm in Madhya Pradesh, belongs to the erstwhile royal family of Gwalior and has family links with both the Congress and the BJP.

While his father Madhavrao Scindia was in the Congress, his grandmother Vijaya Raje Scindia was one of the founding members of the BJP; his aunts Yashodhara Raje Scindia and Vasundhara Raje Scindia are active members of the saffron party.

Calling Madhya Pradesh a piece of his heart ('dil ka bhag'), Scindia said at a press conference with Nadda by his side that his dream for the state "had been shattered" since December 2018.

He said that the Congress had formed the government in 2018 with many dreams. "But in 18 months, those dreams have been destroyed," he said.

He further said that Modi had received a mandate twice and that India's future is secure in his hands.

Welcoming him into the BJP, Nadda said he was "joining his family".

Former chief minister and BJP leader Shivraj Singh Chouhan echoed Nadda and said, "This is a joyous day for BJP and me personally. Today, I remember Rajmata Scindia... The entire family is with BJP.”

Ahead of the BJP declaring Scindia as its candidate for the upcoming Rajya Sabha election in Madhya Pradesh, Scindia said that he was "pained" and "distressed" at not being able to serve the people and described the Congress as a party living in denial.

According to reports, the Sonia Gandhi-led party’s dithering on naming Scindia as a candidate for the Rajya Sabha polls was the last straw for the former Congress general secretary and led to his resignation. On Wednesday, hours after he was inducted into the BJP, Scindia was named as the saffron party’s candidate.

Scindia, a former Union minister and four-time Congress MP who is known to be close to Rahul Gandhi, said the party is not what it used to be.

Kamal Nath government faces threat

His resignation from the Congress along with MLAs "loyal" to him on Tuesday has put a big question mark over the future of the Kamal Nath-led government, which came to power with a wafer-thin majority in the 230-member Assembly. The effective strength is now 228.

It also has the support of four Independents, two Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) legislators and one Samajwadi Party (SP) MLA, but some may now switch sides to the BJP, PTI reported.

If the resignations of the 22 MLAs are accepted, the strength of the assembly will fall to 206. The Congress, on its own, will then be left with 92 seats while the BJP has 107 seats with the magic number for a majority being 104.

However, the Congress has expressed confidence that it will win a trust vote in the Assembly.

"We have 95 MLAs here (at the Bhopal airport). Independent MLAs and BSP and SP legislators are also supporting us," state minister Priyavrat Singh said in Bhopal before taking off for Jaipur.

"We will prove our majority. We will save the government," senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh told PTI.

He said 13 of the 22 rebel MLAs in the state have given an assurance that "they are not leaving the Congress". They also said they don't want to quit the party and were led away only to create pressure on the leadership to nominate Scindia to the Rajya Sabha.

"We did not anticipate that Scindia will quit the Congress... that was a mistake," Digvijaya said.

Scindia, he said, could have been a Congress nominee to the Rajya Sabha but "only Modi-Shah" can give a Cabinet post to the "over-ambitious" leader.

The senior leader also claimed that Scindia was roped in by the BJP after Chouhan failed to topple the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh. The Congress government under Nath was elected to power in the December 2018 Assembly election.

Digvijaya added that Scindia was offered the post of deputy chief minister but wanted a nomination. However, Nath refused to accept a "chela", he said.

Madhya Pradesh governor Lalji Tandon said he is keeping tabs on political developments and will take a decision only after reaching the Raj Bhavan in Bhopal.

Tandon, who is on leave till 12 March, said, "At present, I am a spectator. Once I return there, only then can I make any comment after seeing all things, letters in which people have made some complaints," Tandon said responding to when he will call any party to prove majority in the House.

Congress leaders say Madhya Pradesh govt will survive 

Nakul Nath, Congress MP and the chief minister’s son, also exuded confidence the government would survive. "They (the MLAs) were misled and taken to Bengaluru," Nakul said outside Parliament, describing Scindia's exit from the party as a "dent".

Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot, who was at the airport in Jaipur to receive his party's MLAs, accused the BJP of "shamelessly" indulging in horse-trading on the basis of money power. "Horse-trading is being done shamelessly and MLAs are being threatened there (Madhya Pradesh)," Gehlot alleged.

"We all are together," he added. He also said that people will not forgive Scindia. "Congress party gave him so much but he showed opportunism."

Other Congress MLAs from the central Indian state were also certain the government would prove its majority. "We are going to Jaipur with our MLAs. We will stay there together," state minister Sajjan Singh Verma, considered a close confidant of Nath, told reporters.

Attacking the BJP, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi accused Modi of "destabilising" the elected Congress government in Madhya Pradesh. He also retweeted a picture of himself with Scindia and Nath from December 2018, when the party had won a majority in the state's Assembly polls. The original tweet carried a quoted by Leo Tolstoy as saying, "The two most powerful warriors are patience and time."

Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel also gave a vote of confidence to his Madhya Pradesh counterpart, saying the government will prove in the House that it is safe. "There have been many such instances... Those who left the party after raising a hue and cry later returned to the fold silently," he said.

Hitting out at Scindia, NCP leader Sharad Pawar said he wanted "quick rehabilitation" after the Lok Sabha poll defeat and commended the Congress for its "good and capable leadership".

Ex-Congress MLA says can jump into well for Scindia

However, Madhya Pradesh minister and rebel Congress MLA Imarti Devi on Wednesday reaffirmed her loyalty to Scindia, who has joined the BJP, and said she will always stand alongside him "even if I had to jump into a well".

The women and child development minister said she and 21 other rebel Congress MLAs are camping in Bengaluru out of their own volition and with the blessings of Scindia. Imarti welcomed the former Congress leader's decision to join the BJP. The state minister said she will accompany Scindia wherever he goes.

"If Maharaj (Scindia) asks me or I myself feel that I need to jump into a well then I will do so for Maharaj," Imarti Devi said.

Meanwhile, a former Congress spokesperson Pankaj Chaturvedi, a "staunch" Scindia supporter according to PTI, claimed that 10,000 office bearers of the party had quit after Scindia tendered his resignation.

"About 10,000 office-bearers of the Congress in Madhya Pradesh, from state-level to block-level, including some district presidents, have resigned from the Congress since Tuesday morning owing their allegiance to Scindia ji," said Chaturvedi, who also quit the party along with Scindia.

"More leaders will resign from the party soon," he claimed.

However, the Congress refuted this claim and said the supporters of Scindia were creating pressure on other leaders to leave the party.

With inputs from agencies

March 11, 2020 at 08:51PM

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