Defiant Nath holds the fort in MP

Bhopal A sumptuous breakfast with the Chief Minister before flying to Jaipur on Wednesday might not have lifted the spirits of the Madhya Pradesh Congress MLAs, as did the poise with which Kamal Nath defied the situation and pepped them up.

Nath had told the MLAs at the CLP meeting on Tuesday night that the game is far from over as their colleagues who have been whisked away to Bengaluru may not be convinced about their future as non-MLAs.

Only one MLA Bisahulal has so far joined BJP which gave enough indication of how the very whiff of power was causing differences among the BJP legislators. There were clear indications of the party anointing former Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan as the leader of the legislature party.

But protests in favour of another Brahmin leader Narottam Mishra soured the mood. “Hamara Mukhya Mantri kaisa ho…Narottam Mishra jaisa ho,” shouted a sizeable crowd forcing the party to defer the decision. All legislators have been flown to Gurugam via Delhi overnight.

With the current state BJP unit chief Vishnu Dutt and the legislature party chief and opposition leader Gopal Bhargav being Brahmins and from the same Bundelkhand region, BJP would have wanted to hand the prospective chief ministership back to Chouhan. He had assiduously created a pan-Madhya Pradesh presence and was drawing large crowds ever since the party showed signs of a turnaround.

Mishra has been Chouhan’s ‘go to’ man for the best part of the party’s long years in power.

A day that began on a high note for the BJP ended with a lot of bitterness over the prospective leadership with a fight erupting between the supporters of Mishra and Chouhan.

After the party’s defeat in the Assembly elections 15 months ago Chouhan had to rebuild his equation with the central leadership before being entrusted with leading the prospective government. There have been corruption charges galore and party members say a fresh face must be presented before the public.

Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh had hit out, saying: “I have never made allegations but Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Narottam Mishra both had dispute over who will be chief minister.”

Meanwhile, sources say 17 Congress MLAs who had been flown to BJP-ruled Karnataka on Monday were unsettled by current events. Ten of these MLAs, including two ministers, may not like to join the BJP.

The Congress wants Assembly Speaker N.P. Prajapati to verify the resignations of the MLAs as they might have been taken under duress. The Congress’ hopes hinge on the possible retraction by these rebels.

Meanwhile, with the state government on the precipice, governance has been paralysed in the state. The state secretariat is enjoying an extended holiday.(IANS)