Little did the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) know that it was in for a rude shock on Wednesday.
During voting on criminal law (amendment) in the Madhya Pradesh assembly, two BJP MLAs voted in favour of the Kamal Nath government today.
The Congress claimed that more BJP MLAs could join it. BJP legislators Narayan Tripathi and Sharad Kol voted in favour of the Criminal Law (Madhya Pradesh Amendment) Bill, 2019 when it was put to vote in the Assembly.
"Several BJP MLAs are in touch with chief minister Kamal Nath. They are sitting on the fence. They may cross over to Congress by the next assembly session," claimed Public Relations Minister P C Sharma, talking to reporters later.
During the division of votes on the bill, 122 MLAs voted in favour of the Congress government.
In the 230-member house, the ruling Congress hassupport of 121 MLAs, including Speaker N P Prajapati, who did not take part in the voting.
Thus, besides the 120 MLAs of the Congress and its allies, two BJP MLAs also supported the bill.
Talking to reporters later, Tripathi, who is MLA from Maihar, and Beohari legislator Kol said they extended support to the seven-month old Nath government because they wanted development in their constituencies.
This was their "ghar wapsi" (homecoming), they added.
According to Congress sources, Nath sent feelers to the two BJP lawmakers through Arif Masood, Congress MLA from Bhopal Central, about a month ago.
Tripathi reportedly did not get along with BJP MP from Satna Ganesh Singh. Besides, he had been seeking to make Maihar, a tehsil of Satna, a separate district.
Tripathi, who had a long stint in the Congress before joining the BJP, was once in the Samajwadi Party and headed its Madhya Pradesh unit.
Kol, as a Youth Congress leader, had sought party ticket from the Beohari for the last year's Assembly polls.
Miffed over denial of ticket, he joined the BJP and the saffron party fielded him from Beohari where he won.
Kol's father Juglal Kol is a senior Congress leader from Shahdol district. Nath, who is also the state Congress president, persuaded Sharad Kol's father to bring him back in the Congress fold, the sources said.
Earlier on Wednesday, Opposition leader Gopal Bhargava boasted that "we can bring down the government the moment Central leadership gives a go ahead."
Kamal Nath promptly challenged BJP to try and buy out the ruling party legislators in his state, and asked why the opposition did not hold a vote right away.
Nath said the BJP has been making such claims right from the day his government took office. "Let me make it clear the Opposition's claims are bogus and our MLAs are not for sale."
He said his government is here for five years and "Madhya Pradesh will create history by setting up new benchmarks of development bringing prosperity to every class."
"I want to call the bluff of the opposition BJP here and now," the Chief Minister said.
"Instead of this everyday clamour of keeping the minority government at its mercy the opposition should hold a no-trust vote right away. We are prepared for it, here and now. Is the Opposition ready?" he asked.
Nath said: "I have maintained certain propriety in my political life and tried to set an example. No one has raised questions or made any allegations throughout my political life of 45 years."
He said: "I have been an MP for 40 years and was a minister of several departments at the Centre. I have always tried to keep my political life clean."
"As a minister, I have always protected the interests of people of Madhya Pradesh." He said that as Union Minister of Commerce earlier, he took care of the interests of farmers in the WTO and did not compromise.
"I do not resort to television and media politics. I do not have the passion to show my face and print photos. If any section of the state is in crisis, then I try to resolve the issue immediately and bring relief. This I believe is true sensitivity to the people."