The ruling Congress in Madhya Pradesh, facing collapse after a section of its MLAs flew to Bengaluru and quit the party, petitioned the Supreme Court today for help to “release” its lawmakers from what it called “BJP captivity”.
Congress MLAs, in their petition before the Supreme Court, have accused the BJP of “kidnapping and keeping in captivity” 16 MLAs.
The petition asks for the top court’s intervention to “release them”.
The state Congress legislature party said there can be no trust vote in the absence of MLAs representing 22 constituencies. It questioned the Governor’s directive on a floor test saying he had “pre-determined” that the Kamal Nath government has already lost majority in the House.
Most of the 22 MLAs, who are loyal to Jyotiraditya Scindia, flew to Bengaluru in BJP-ruled Karnataka last week. They handed in their resignation shortly after Mr Scindia quit the Congress. Mr Scindia, a prominent Madhya Pradesh leader, joined the BJP a day later.
Their sudden flight has plunged the 15-month-old Congress government of Kamal Nath into a minority.
Six of the resignations have been accepted.
Chief Minister Kamal Nath, asked by the Governor to prove his majority in the assembly, has repeatedly said the MLAs have been kidnapped and held captive by the BJP.
“Let the 16 MLAs, who have been held captive, be released. Let them live in their respective houses for 5-7 days without any fear so that they can take an independent decision,” Kamal Nath wrote in a letter to Governor Lalji Tandon, who has twice asked him to prove his majority in a floor test.
The Chief Minister in his letter also objected to the Governor’s assertion that the Congress government would be assumed to have lost its majority if it failed to prove its strength in the house today.
“Your belief that I should conduct a floor test in MP Assembly on March 17, otherwise it will be considered that I do not have the majority will be unconstitutional because of it being baseless,” said Mr Nath.
Earlier today, the rebel Congress MLAs held a press conference in Bengaluru saying they were staying away from Bhopal of their own volition and had resigned because they were not happy with Kamal Nath’s style of leadership.
The rebels have also been posting videos to prove that they have not been forced to stay where they are.
Mr Nath has been issued notice by the Supreme Court to explain his stand on a petition by former Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and other BJP MLAs for an immediate floor test in the state Assembly.