On the eve of the Madhya Pradesh assembly session, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad Sunday attended a joint meeting of the Legislature Party (CLP) and the MLAs of the allies supporting the Kamal Nath government in the state.
The timing of the meeting assumes significance in the backdrop of the developments in Karnataka and the likelihood of the opposition BJP seeking division of votes on financial matters on the floor of the House.
However, a party MLA dismissed speculation that Azad's visit was aimed at ensuring that the flock of the Congress and its allies stays together in the state.
The political crisis in Karnataka was triggered after over a dozen ruling Congress-JD(S) MLAs put in their papers. The BJP had in May this year demanded that the Kamal Nath government prove its majority on the floor of the House.
The state Congress government enjoys a wafer-thin majority in the Assembly with the backing of the BSP, the SP and Independents. In the 230-member House, the ruling Congress has 114 MLAs, two short of the majority mark of 116.
"The BSP, the SP and Independents supporting us also participated in the meeting held at the residence of Chief Minister Kamal Nath in Bhopal," the MLA told PTI tonight.
When asked about the motive behind Azad's visit, especially at a time when the Congress-JD (S) coalition government in the southern state appeared tottering on the brink, he said the leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha attended the CLP meet after an invitation was extended to him.
"Our senior Congress leader Azadji had came to grace a function here. He was then invited to attend the CLP meeting and he obliged. Nothing much should be read into it," the MLA said.
When asked about what transpired at the meeting, the Congress leader said, "Azad told us how the Congress has kept the country intact and worked for the welfare of people. He enlightened us on the rich history of the party".
Azad was at the meeting for around two hours and later joined the MLAs over dinner, he said. According to sources in the BJP, the party is planning to put the government on the mat in the Monsoon Session of the assembly beginning Monday.
They said the BJP was mulling over demanding the division of votes on financial matters, which will test the strength of the government.
The BJP had in May asked the Congress-led dispensation to prove its majority in House and written to state governor for convening a special session of the Assembly.
Meanwhile, sources in the Congress said that Nath told the MLAs at the CLP meeting to aggressively demand account of the 15 years of BJP's rule.
The chief minister told the legislators to come prepared to the House and thwart the BJP's attack, they added.
Replying to the BJP's demand for a floor test, Nath had said he had proven majority of his coalition government "four times" in the last five months, and was ready to do so again.
In the assembly polls held last year, the Congress had won 114 seats and the BJP 109. However, the Congress went on to form a coalition government enlisting support of the MLAs of the BSP (2), the SP (1) and Independents (4). In the recently-held Lok Sabha elections, the BJP had won 28 out of total 29 seats in Madhya Pradesh.
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