Troubles keep mounting for the Kamal Nath government in Madhya Pradesh, and now even the MP Chief Minister Kamal Nath seems to be getting slowly disoriented. Madhya Pradesh Labour Minister, Manish Singh Sisodiya, a vocal supporter of Jyotiraditya Scindia has warned that the state government would face a crisis if it “neglects and disrespects” Jyotiraditya Scindia for too long.
In a video statement from Guna- the pocket borough of Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sisodiya said, “BJP is doing this politics of pressure. But I would definitely say that Kamal Nath ji’s government will face a crisis only when it neglects and disrespects our leader Jyotiraditya Scindia. Black clouds will certainly descend on the Madhya Pradesh government then.”
It is necessary to view this statement in context of a brutal ongoing coup in the state of Madhya Pradesh. In late night Tuesday drama, the grand old party claimed that the BJP is trying to topple the Kamal Nath government in the state of Madhya Pradesh, and therefore 8 of the party lawmakers were found in Gurugram at midnight. It seemed as if the Congress was not able to keep its house in order.
Moreover, former Madhya Pradesh Water Resources Minister and senior BJP leader, Narottam Mishra had also claimed that 15-20 Congress lawmakers were in touch with the BJP.
Now, Scindia’s faction has hit the enemy- Kamal Nath when he has already been caught in a tight spot. These sharp turn of events has led to Kamal Nath taking up the defensive mode. He has planned an emergency Madhya Pradesh cabinet expansion- an attempt to placate the disgruntled lawmakers in the party who could be contemplating shifting to the BJP.
There are many among the Madhya Pradesh Congress legislators and those supporting it who have been eyeing cabinet positions. In 2019, Madhya Pradesh CM Kamal Nath had however rejected any plans of cabinet expansion thereby dampening all such ambitions of lawmakers to occupy cabinet ranks.
Even with Scindia, Kamal Nath has always dealt with a firm hand. When Scindia had recently threatened to hit the streets if the Congress government in the state didn’t fulfill its promises of farm loan waiver and absorption of guest teachers in state government service, Chief Minister Kamal Nath had given a terse, angry reply bluntly stating, “Toh utar jayein (Let him hit the streets if he wants to).”
Criticism over farm woes, failure to fulfill his promises to teachers and his anti-Hindu policies– nothing really affected Kamal Nath in any way who continued with his Chief Minister-ship as a matter of routine. But over the past few days, things have changed on their head.
Congress has 114 seats in the 230-member Assembly, while the BJP has 109 seats in the State Legislative Assembly. Congress had formed government with the support of two BSP MLAs, one SP MLAs and four independent MLAs.
As such Kamal Nath has come to terms with the precarious position that he occupies. He understands that even if 15-20 MLAs were to switch over to the BJP, the Congress would be staring right into an embarrassing exit from the state of Madhya Pradesh. This could also easily mean curtains over Kamal Nath’s political career. Therefore, he is finally on the backfoot and treading very cautiously from here.
In the coming days, we can expect the Scindia faction which has significant clout within the party to press its demands more aggressively and firmly having realised that Kamal Nath is now on the backfoot and this is the time to get what they wanted out of him.
Kamal Nath knows that with the kind of clout that Scindia has, his troubles can deepen any moment. Moreover, with Rajya Sabha elections around the corner, the Central leadership might also get involved. With a mix of circumstances going against Kamal Nath, the 73-year old Chief Minister seems to have been pushed completely on the backfoot for the first time in his duel against Jyotiraditya Scindia.