Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath was on Monday engaged in trouble shooting after several lawmakers, including ministers, supporting Jyotiraditya Scindia flew to Bengaluru amid intensified factionalism in the ruling party ahead of Rajya Sabha polls.
As his government appeared to be on a sticky wicket, Kamal Nath, who met Congress president Sonia Gandhi in Delhi to discuss the political situation as well as nominees for the Rajya Sabha election, cut short his visit and returned to Bhopal on Monday night, where he went into a huddle with Digvijay Singh and other senior leaders at his residence, before calling a cabinet meeting around 10 pm.
The Bharatiya Janata Party, meanwhile, called a meeting of its MLAs on Tuesday, where sources said
Shivraj Singh Chouhan may be elected as the leader of the legislature party.
The rumblings in the Congress had started last week when it had accused the BJP of trying to topple its government after 10 MLAs of the ruling party and those of its allies travelled to Haryana, though the BJP had denied the charge.
Of them, eight had come back and many of them wanted ministerial berths, according to sources. However, two Congress MLAs have not yet returned.
To add to the woes of the party, Scindia and at least 17 MLAs, believed to be supporting him, suddenly became 'incommunicado' on Monday, leading to intense speculation.
Scindia and Nath have fallen out over the post of the state Congress president, which is currently held by the chief minister.
While calls made to Scindia remained unanswered, mobile phones of at least six ministers who are supporters of the Guna royal are switched off.
The ministers whose mobile phones were switched off were health minister Tulsi Silavat, labour minister Mahendra Singh Sisodia, transport minister Govind Singh Rajput, women and child development minister Imarti Devi, food and civil supplies minister Pradyumna Singh Tomar and school education minister Dr Prabhura Choudhary.
Sources said several legislators, including a few ministers, arrived in Bengaluru by chartered flights and were staying at an undisclosed location.
"It is a fight for the survival of Scindia now. It is a do or die battle for Scindia and his group which is being sidelined," a source close to the scion of erstwhile Gwalior kingdom said.
Earlier in the day, a section of Congress leaders, mostly of Kamal Nath camp, demanded that Priyanka Gandhi Vadra be nominated from the state for the upcoming Rajya Sabha polls, seen by many as an attempt to thwart Scindia's chance to reach the Upper House.
Nath, who left for Delhi on Sunday night, was supposed to come back to Bhopal on March 12 after celebrating Holi, but returned after meeting Sonia Gandhi in the national capital.
After the meeting, Nath said any decision on the party's nominees for Rajya Sabha polls would be taken unanimously.
"All issues were discussed with the Congress president and everything will be resolved unanimously," he told reporters.
The Madhya Pradesh chief minister, however, skirted the issue of whether Scindia can be nominated for the Rajya Sabha seat from the state.
While factionalism has reared its head again in the Congress, the BJP too was having some anxious moments due to a couple of MLAs.
The Rajya Sabha terms of Congress veteran Digvijay Singh, and BJP leaders Prabhat Jha and Satyanarayan Jatiya will end on April 9.
While the Congress, which was voted to power in MP after 15 years in 2018, has 114 MLAs, the opposition BJP has 107 legislators.
Four Independent MLAs, two lawmakers of the Bahujan Samaj Party and one legislator of the Samajwadi Party are supporting the Congress-led state government.
As per the arithmetic in the 230-member Madhya Pradesh assembly, the two parties are sure to win one Rajya Sabha seat each, but a tussle is likely for the third seat.
Two assembly seats are vacant following the demise of a Congress and a BJP legislator.
BJP MLA Narayan Tripathi had frequented Nath's residence last week and had, along with another legislator Sharad Kol, missed the saffron party's meet on March 3.
Tripathi and Kol had gone against the party and voted in favour of a Congress-sponsored bill in the state Assembly in July last year.
The BJP has called a meeting of its 107 MLAs on Tuesday ahead of the March 16 budget session of the state Assembly and the Rajya Sabha polls for three seats scheduled on March 26.
Sources in Delhi said former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan may be elected as the leader of the BJP legislature party in the meeting on Tuesday.
Chouhan, they added, has briefed the top party brass, including its president J P Nadda, about the developments in the state.
The party had sent a list of 20 to 22 names, including that of national general secretaries Ram Madhav and Kailash Vijayvargiya, to its central poll panel to pick two candidates for the RS polls.
Members of a state's Legislative Assembly vote in the Rajya Sabha elections.