BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, who has uncharacteristically kept himself away from the political drama that is happening in Madhya Pradesh, has silently emerged as the strongest contender for the Chief Minister’s post of Madhya Pradesh in case the Kamal Nath led Congress government in Madhya Pradesh falls.
MP-based leaders, including Shivraj Singh Chouhan, newly appointed state party president and Lok Sabha MP V.D. Sharma, Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar and former state incharge Arvind Menon, who has been roped in for his vast experience of working in Madhya Pradesh, are a part of the core team that has come together to “prepare” the party in case it finds itself in a situation where it will be able to form government without generating too much of controversy.
The BJP central leadership, however, has made it clear to these leaders that they should not “rush” into this “exercise” so as to avoid a mess like that happened in Maharashtra where it failed to gauge the political shrewdness of Sharad Pawar.
The idea to not rush in before doing its “homework” is also being attributed to the fact that the party will be challenging someone like Kamal Nath who has been doing politics from a time when BJP leaders such as Amit Shah and Shivraj Chouhan had not even joined politics.
According to party sources, an informal agreement has been reached within the top BJP sources that Vijayvargiya would stake claim to lead the government once the situation arises.
Bhopal-based political observers are keeping a close watch on two dates, by which, according to them, a clarity is expected to emerge regarding the political cauldron in the state—13 March and 18 March.
The last date of filing the nomination for the Rajya Sabha polls is 13 March, the election for which will be held on 26 March while the state budget is to be presented in Madhya Pradesh Assembly on 18 March.
While the Congress and BJP are certain, numerically, to ensure the election of one candidate each, the selection for the third one is the one which is leading to all kind of surprises on a daily basis in the central state.
Bhopal-based Congress leaders told The Sunday Guardian that they will get the second seat, too, as they will be supported by the independents and legislators from other parties.
However, a similar assertion was made by Delhi-based BJP strategists who said that if they are able to make secure the support of the independents, BSP, SP MLAs and also the disgruntled Congress MLAs, they will be able to comfortably send two candidates to the Rajya Sabha.
As of today, the Congress has 114 MLAs (112 if one excludes Hardeep Dang who has “resigned” and the Speaker of the Assembly who is from the Congress), the BJP has 107, while there are four independents, two of BSP and one on SP in the house of 230 (two MLAs (one from Congress and one from BJP have passed away).
The magic figure hence is 115. However, the problem with the BJP is that two of its own MLAs, Narayan Tripathi and Sharad Kol, have openly rebelled against the party.
This means that de facto the BJP has the support of 105 MLAs and hence needs at least 10 more MLAs to touch 115. The Delhi-based BJP leader also reminded of the possibility of things becoming clear much before 26 March as the budget is likely to be presented on 18 March.
“If the Chief Minister fails to secure a majority of the votes when the budget is put to vote, his government would automatically be rendered a minority one and it would fall that very day,” he said.
Congress’ house of cards
While the Bharatiya Janata Party is moving unitedly towards their goal of pulling the rug from Kamal Nath’s feet, Congress leaders are fighting among themselves in Bhopal for the Rajya Sabha nomination with “big” leaders like Digvijaya Singh, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Arun Yadav, Ajay Singh expecting to get through.
Supporters of both Singh and Scindia have been stating that their leader are the “most deserving”. Bhopal-based party leaders believe that if it was not for the proactive stance of “Diggi Raja”, as he is called by his close colleagues, the Congress government would have fallen last week.
However, in case the few “disgruntled” or “impressionable” Congress MLAs, despite the party intending to issue a whip for the Rajya Sabha elections, cross-vote for the BJP candidates and in the process lose their membership of the Assembly, the Congress will be able to send only one member.
And that is what is not letting anyone in the Congress camp sleep peacefully.
“There is no doubt that our party MLAs are upset with the top leadership for multiple reasons and if the BJP has been able to ‘poach’ them by giving them the assurance of a party ticket and monetary help, then that will only become clear either when the budget is put for vote. The Chief Minister himself is keeping a close eye on the developments,” a Congress party spokesperson said.
Kamal Nath, who has spent more years in politics than even the age of some of the BJP and Congress leaders who are challenging him, made his anger public when he shunted out the former state DGP V.K. Singh as the state police miserably failed in generating intelligence about non-BJP MLAs, including Congress MLAs, being in touch with the BJP, a “tale’ which was first revealed by Digvijaya Singh.
BJP sources in Bhopal and Delhi, including those who are directly a part of the deliberations on Madhya Pradesh, have hinted that Vijayvargiya’s elevation to the post of Chief Minister, in case it happens, will also have the backing of a “few” senior Congress leaders of Madhya Pradesh. The reason behind this support to Vijayvargiya by Congress leaders is stated to be the legendary “crab-mentality” among Congress leaders that is “as old as the Congress itself”.