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Published On: Wed, Jul 24th, 2019

Two BJP MLAs cross-vote in Madhya Pradesh ‘ghar wapsi’

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Sharad-Kol-Narayan-Tripathi-BJPBHOPAL :Hours after daring the Kamal Nath government that it would fail to last if the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s “No. 1 or No.2” (senior leadership) issued an order, two BJP MLAs voted in favour of the Congress-led government during voting on the criminal law (amendment) in the Assembly.
MLAs Narayan Tripathi and Sharad Kol, who cross-voted and supported the Congress government on the Penal Code Amendment Bill, told News18 they were not given due respect in the saffron camp.
Stunning the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is exulting over the collapse of the Congress government in Karnataka, two of its MLAs on Wednesday voted in favour of an amendment to the criminal procedure code in the Madhya Pradesh Vidhan Sabha.

Terming it a ghar waapsi (homecoming), Maihar legislator Narayan Tripathi told reporters, “In the previous government, Shivraj Singh Chouhan had made tall promises in my constituency, but delivered nothing. There was also an attempt within the party to sabotage my election. The Congress is my old home and I am headed back to it. I’ll do whatever is the best for my constituency.” The MLA had switched to the BJP in 2014.
With the positive vote of Beohari MLA Sharad Kol as well, the Criminal Law (Madhya Pradesh Amendment) Bill, 2019, was passed in the Assembly with the support of 122 MLAs, even though the ruling coalition has the support of 121 MLAs, including Speaker N.P. Prajapati, who didn’t vote.
The development came a day after the Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) alliance lost a floor test in the Karnataka Assembly. After Leader of Opposition Gopal Bhargav’s challenge earlier in the day, Chief Minister Kamal Nath dared the BJP to bring a no-trust motion in the Assembly on Wednesday. Bhargav had told the Congress government in the Assembly that “if the No. 1 or No. 2 of our party issued an order, we can bring down this government within 24 hours”.
Although the BJP has been talking about the survival of the Nath government, this is the first time that a Leader of Opposition has put it on record inside the House.“Hum jaldi Congress sarkar ka pind daan karenge (We would soon perform last rites of the Congress government),” Bhargav told News18.

Later, Nath said, “Every day, the BJP says we are a minority government and one which could fall any day. Today in voting in the Assembly (on criminal law amendment), two BJP MLAs voted in our favour. My government is not in a minority.”

In the 230-member House, the Kamal Nath-led Congress has 114 MLAs, the BJP has 109. Four independents, two BSP MLAs and a lone SP lawmaker has extended support to Nath’s government.

On Wednesday, the Congress secured the support of 122 MLAs during a dramatic vote division on the amendment bill, with the BJP MLAs abstaining. When Law Minister PC Sharma proposed amendments to the Criminal Procedure Act and the BJP said it would back the same, BSP MLA Sanjiv Singh Sanju demanded division of votes on the matter.
However, Bhargav and former chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan objected to it saying there was no need of when the Opposition was backing the amendment. As Sanju repeatedly went ahead with his demand, Speaker NP Prajapati announced the vote division. While Congress MLAs went out to cast their votes, the BJP MLAs stayed put in the House. The speaker then said 122 MLAs voted in favour of the amendment while no one voted against it.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Govind Singh said two BJP MLAs have voted in favour of the government and then the speaker announced to adjourn the Assembly sine die.

Meanwhile, Bhargav raised objections to the result saying several MLAs have voted twice and 12 fake signatures were offered for the absent MLAs. Refusing to accept that the BJP lawmakers have voted for the government, he demanded verification of signatures at the Governor House, but the chief minister said that can be right now.The speaker short the arguments and announced recital of the national anthem.
Outside the House, the law minister said the BJP’s Beohari and Maihar MLAs Sharad Kol and and Narayan Tripathi, have voted in favour of the government. “We proved that our government is strong and many more BJP MLAs are in touch with the CM.”

Later, Chouhan said the government was scared and hence, deliberately tried to exhibit its might through vote division. “It was a rare occasion when both ruling party and opposition backed a bill, but still vote division was done,” said Chouhan, adding the BJP has been saying for long that the government would fall on its own. “The vote division was done to avoid discussion on farmers’ issue,” he said.
Sanjiv Singh Sanju, the BSP MLA in the eye of the controversy, told reporters the BJP threatened to topple the government this morning and often talked about it being a minority, so it was important to prove that it was indeed a strong government. The other MLA Rambai has also reiterated support to the government and said there was no Karnataka-like crisis in the state.

Later, the speaker issued a statement in which he rejected the BJP’s allegations of fake votes. He said during the speaker’s election 120 MLAs had supported the vote division, while on Wednesday the number was 122.
The Congress enjoys the support of one Samajwadi Party, two Bahujan Samaj Party and four independent MLAs, whereas the BJP has 109 MLAs in the Assembly. Later in the day, Chief Minister Kamal Nath, sitting with the dissenting MLAs, told reporters, “The BJP claims we are a minority government which can fall any day. But today, during the voting on the amendment, two of their MLAs voted in our favour.”
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath is flanked by BJP MLAs Narayan Tripathi (right) and Sharad Kol as he addresses a press conference at the State Assembly in Bhopal  on wednesday

The developments come hours after Mr. Nath and Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Gopal Bhargava parlayed over the stability of the government. Mr. Bhargava had hinted at the government’s wobbly foundation, given the Congress lost the trust vote to the BJP in the Karnataka Assembly on Tuesday.

On the floor of the house, Mr. Bhargava claimed one instruction from the top leadership of the BJP was enough to topple the Congress government in the State within 24 hours.

Stating that the Congress was ready to prove its majority any time, Mr. Nath hit back: “The number one and two at your top are wise. That’s why they are not giving any orders.”

 

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