4 MLAs in Madhya Pradesh yet to return, unease in Congress over Rajya Sabha prospects

The four MLAs who were yet to return include Bisahulal Singh, Hardeep Singh Dung and Raghuraj Kansana, all Congress legislators, and Surendra Singh Shera, an independent.

Four Madhya Pradesh lawmakers owing allegiance to the Congress were yet to return to the state on Thursday evening after travelling to Bangalore — and the purported resignation letter of one of them went viral on social media — as their absence stirred unease in the party over its prospects in the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections.

Six MLAs, who the Congress claimed had been poached by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and held captive in a Gurugram hotel, returned to Madhya Pradesh on Wednesday evening. Congress leaders claimed that the remaining four were staying at a hotel in Bengaluru and would return by Thursday evening, but none had done so and remained incommunicado

The four MLAs who were yet to return include Bisahulal Singh, Hardeep Singh Dung and Raghuraj Kansana, all Congress legislators, and Surendra Singh Shera, an independent. The three Congress lawmakers stayed incommunicado on Thursday.

A resignation letter purportedly written by Dung and written to assembly speaker NP Prajapati and chief minister Kamal Nath surfaced on social media, Dung said no development projects had been executed in his constituency like irrigation projects and roads, and alleged corruption in the government. Nath said:“I cannot comment on the news of his resignation till I speak to him in person.” Prajapati said he will not take cognizance of any letter that isn’t submitted to him in person. “Only when he (Dung) meets me in person will I will take action as per the rules,” he said.

When contacted, independent MLA Shera said he was in Bengaluru for the medical treatment of his daughter and denied that he was part of any plan by the BJP, which the Congress says is trying to destabilise the government of chief minister Kamal Nath .

“I came to Bengaluru with my family as I have to consult some doctors for treatment of my daughter. I will be returning after a couple of days. I am with the Kamal Nath government right from day one. However, ministers don’t listen to me and Chief Minister Kamal Nath didn’t make me a minister despite his assurances,” he said.

The absence of the four legislators has worried the Congress because of the prospect of cross-voting in the Rajya Sabha polls, with three seats in the Upper House up for grabs from Madhya Pradesh. The elections are due on March 26. The three seats that fall vacant on April 2 include those of senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh and Prabhat Jha and Satyanarayan Jatia of the BJP.

“What causes worry to our party at this juncture is not the absence of the MLAs but the party’s prospects during elections to Rajya Sabha’s three seats,” a senior Congress leader said on condition of anonymity. “If the BJP manages to engineer cross-voting, the Congress will not lose a seat but the state government will face the stigma of being in a minority.”

The Congress, for the record, said it had nothing to fret about. MP Congress spokesperson Pankaj Chaturvedi said: “Our chief ministerm Kamal Nath ,is in touch with the MLAs who are yet to return. There is no threat to the government and also the party’s prospects in Rajya Sabha election. BJP’s conspiracy has already been exposed.”

Two seats are vacant in the 230-member state assembly. The Congress has 114 MLAs against the BJP’s 107. The House also has four independents, two Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and one Samajwadi Party P MLAs. As it has the support of all the non-BJP legislators, the Congress should easily win two of the three seats in normal circumstances,but its math would go wrong in case of cross-voting or in the absence of its supporters.

Senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha member Digvijaya Singh has alleged that former minister Bhupendra Singh took Rambai Singh Parihar of the BSP to Gurugram in a chartered flight. He said two MP ministers, Jaivardhan Singh and Jitu Patwari, were on Wednesday prevented from entering the Gurugram resort where the MLAs were being put up, but had managed to bring Parihar back.

In New Delhi, leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha Gulam Nabi Azad said: “The atmosphere created by the BJP in the country (is of) targeting and breaking opposition party leaders with threats of raids etc and forcing them to join or ally with the BJP so they can form government. “This fever to destabilise state governments rises when Rajya Sabha elections are due.”

The two BSP legislators who returned on Wednesday evening said they had gone out of Bhopal on their own.

BSP MLA Sanjeev Kushwah said: “Who can poach us? From whom did they rescue us? They must make it clear or apologise for their statements.”

His colleague Parihar said: “How can anyone take me anywhere…The fact is my air ticket was booked eight days back by my daughter. It’s wrong to say that BJP’s Bhupendra Singh took me there (Gurugram).”

State BJP spokesperson Rahul Kothari said: “Nothing could be more ridiculous than the fact that whereas the Congress and other MLAs continue to deny the BJP’s role in any horse trading, the Congress leaders continue to blame the BJP. The fact is the entire episode is a result of bitter infighting in the Congress…”

Source: Hindustan Times

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