The Exit polls have prompted a fresh offensive from the BJP against the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh. The leader of the opposition in the state assembly, Gopal Bhargava had, in a letter to the state governor Anandiben Patel on Monday, demanded a session of the House to discuss the financial issues since the session has not been held for nearly six months.
Congress has promptly rejected the BJP’s demand for a special session of the state assembly.
State parliamentary affairs minister Govind Singh has said, “The government will summon the regular budget session shortly and there is no need for a special session.” Singh also countered the BJP’s claim that some MLA’s were keen to desert the government saying the Opposition party should take care of its own MLAs who might shift to the Congress. The Congress leader said the party has the numbers and need not prove them every week.
The Congress might hasten the expansion of the ministry by inducting members from the BSP and SP to neutralise the challenge. The expansion planned early in March was postponed in view of the model code of conduct for elections. BSP’s Sanjeev Singh Kushwaha, SP’s Rajesh Shukla and Independent MLA Surendra Singh are likely to get berths.
The Congress leader said that his party had already proved its strength on the floor of the MP assembly twice when its candidates won the elections for the post of speaker and deputy speaker of the House.
Mayawati had threatened to withdraw support to the Congress government after Lokendra Singh, a candidate of Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party, quit and joined the Congress to support Scindia. Chief Minister Kamal Nath, however, indicated the matter was resolved, saying, “Mayawati's party has the same goal as us-- that is the exit of the BJP”.
BJP’s demand reflects a friction between the former chief minister, Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Gopal Bhargava. Bhargava said that the BJP has been submitting the proof of fulfilling its promises on farm loan waivers to an ex-chief minister instead making the document public through an appropriate forum causing an anarchical condition. Ideally such matters should be taken up in the House.
Chouhan tried to upstage the leader of the opposition in rushing to the press to suggest that the Congress ministry is in minority. The BJP is apparently keen to force the issue in view of the exit polls. Gopal Bhargava is also upset that Chouhan, now a mere MLA, should assume more importance than the leader of the opposition.
Congress won 114 of the state's 230 seats in the state assembly nearly six months ago where majority mark is at 116. The government has the support of two MLAs from Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party and one from the Akhilesh Yadav's Samajwadi. The BJP has 109 seats. Two Independents are also backing the government.
“I have written to the Governor to convene special session of MP Assembly shortly. We want discussion important issues like the farm loan waiver and (to) test the government's strength,” said Bhargava.
Chouhan on the other hand sought to grab the spotlight saying “We will not try to dislodge the government but the Congress is a divided house. They are in minority and even the minority is divided. The senior Congress MP Jyotiraditya Scindia has gone abroad even before the last phase of polling concluded.”
Exit polls have predicted a victory for the NDA in the Lok Sabha elections. An aggregate of exit polls has also predicted that the BJP will win 24 of the 20 Lok Sabha seats in Madhya Pradesh. Interestingly most surveys have discounted the heavy polling that took place in the state. The Congress is buoyed by the polling and expects to prove the predictions wrong.
But there is such wide gap in the various surveys that they smack of manipulation on behalf of the ruling alliance at the Centre.
Chief Minister Kamal Nath said, “We have seen the exit polls and the results earlier in 2004 and in 2018 assembly elections that showed Congress losing. The results were there for all to see.”
“Wait till May 23, the reality will be known. The Congress will certainly gain seats in the state and the BJP’s slogans and claims will also be busted.”
Congress candidate from Jabalpur Vivek Tankha said, “50 exit polls failed in Australia today. Indian situation no different. Media credibility at stake. Its drama vs governance.”