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Holi shock for Cong as Jyotiraditya Scindia quits after meeting PM

Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Hemant Waje
Last updated on: March 10, 2020 20:55 IST
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With Scindia quitting the party, the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh appeared headed for a collapse. 

IMAGE: Former Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia leaves from his residence in New Delhi. Photograph: ANI

In a massive setback for the Congress, its prominent youth leader Jyotiraditya Scindia quit the party and in a coordinated rebellion on Tuesday 22 MLAs loyal to him resigned in Madhya Pradesh, pushing the 15-month-old Kamal Nath government to the brink of collapse.

Scindia, 49, appeared set to join the Bharatiya Janata Party, a party which had his late grandmother Vijaya Raje Scindia as one of the leading lights amid speculation he will get a Rajya Sabha ticket and be made a Union minister.

A shell-shocked Congress, in a largely symbolic move of no consequence, expelled Scindia, the party general secretary and scion of the erstwhile Gwalior royal family, on charges of anti-party activities.

On Tuesday morning, as much of India was celebrating Holi, Scindia, once considered a rising star of the Congress, met senior BJP leader and home minister Amit Shah, following which he called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his 7, Lok Kalyan Marg residence.

There was no official word on what transpired at the meetings.

 

However, BJP sources asserted that the decision of the party's top two leaders to hold long deliberations with Scindia underlined the importance they attach to him.

In the resignation letter dated March 9 to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Scindia said "it is now time for me to move on" as he was unable to serve the people of the country while remaining in the party.

The Congress party said his letter was received at Sonia Gandhi's residence only at 12.20 pm on Tuesday, a day which was also Scindia's father and Congress stalwart Madhavrao Scindia's 75th birth anniversary.

With Scindia quitting the party, the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh appeared headed for a collapse.

Sources said 22 Congress MLAs from Scindia's camp have quit the party --19 of them sent in their resignations to governor Lal Ji Tandon while three despatched it to the speaker directly.

Six of the MLAs are ministers.

After their resignation, Kamal Nath wrote to the governor seeking their immediate removal.

The Congress, whose tally before the rebellion is 114, has a wafer-thin majority in the Madhya Pradesh assembly whose current effective strength is 228.

The Congress has the support of four Independents, two Bahujan Samaj Party and one Samajwadi Party MLA.

Even with their support, Congress will fall short of a majority, and it is anyway unclear if they will continue to support the Congress or go with the BJP.

If the resignations of the 22 MLAs are accepted, the strength of the assembly will fall to 206.

The magic number for retaining the majority then will be 104.

The Congress, however, will be left with 92 seats while the BJP has 107 seats.

Noting that the events of the day had been drawing themselves out for a year, Scindia, in his letter to Gandhi, said it was now best for him to look at a fresh start.

"Having been a primary member of the Congress party for the last 18 years. It is now time for me to move on. I am tendering my resignation from the primary membership of the Congress and as you well know this is a path that has been drawing itself out over the last year," Scindia wrote in the letter.

"While my aim and purpose remains the same as it has always been from the very beginning, to serve the people of my state and my country, I believe I am unable to do this anymore within this party," Scindia said in his resignation letter posted on Twitter.

"To reflect and realise the aspirations of my people and workers I believe it is best that I now look ahead at a fresh start," he said.

The former Guna MP also thanked Gandhi and his other former Congress colleagues for "providing him with a platform to have served the nation".

Soon thereafter, a statement from All India Congress Committee general secretary K C Venugopal said the Congress president has "approved the expulsion of Jyotiraditya Scindia from the Indian National Congress with immediate effect for anti-party activities."

Scindia has long been at loggerheads with Kamal Nath who belongs to the old guard.

After narrowly winning the state assembly elections in December 2018, Kamal Nath took over as chief minister.

But trouble started brewing recently when Scindia's supporters in the government were side-lined, and it appeared that his ambitions to be the state Congress president were also thwarted.

It was also clear that the central leadership was not ready to listen to his grievances.

This weekend, Scindia and six ministers in the Kamal Nath Cabinet went to Bengaluru and became incommunicado.

It then became clear that a rebellion was brewing in the party and Kamal Nath would lose the support of the six ministers as well as other MLAs loyal to Scindia.

The outcome of the political drama being played out on Holi day goes beyond Madhya Pradesh, which itself is important for both the BJP and the Congress.

MP was one of the three major states where the Congress evicted BJP in the series of Assembly elections before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

With the imminent loss of Madhya Pradesh, it will become clear that the Congress leadership has failed to keep a cohesive united front and has been unable to control the conflicting ambitions of its many regional leaders.

Continued infighting is likely to further debilitate the party, which is already a pale shadow of its former greatness at the national level.

Regaining Madhya Pradesh will greatly enhance BJP's strength in the Hindi belt, and the Congress will have only Rajasthan, where again it is beset with factional feuds, Punjab and Chattisgarh as the major states under its control.

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Hemant Waje© Copyright 2020 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
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