June 9, 2023

A day after the Congress’s coalition government in Karnataka crashed in a trust vote, a BJP leader’s threat in Congress-ruled Madhya Pradesh caused a flutter. “One order from the top and your government won’t survive,” a BJP lawmaker said to Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath on Wednesday.

The Congress has accused the BJP of meticulously plotting the takeover of states where it is not in power, by using all the means at its disposal.

Hamare oopar wale Number 1 ya number 2 ka aadesh hua to 24 ghante bhi aapki sarkar nahi chalegi (If there is an order from our No. 1 or No. 2 then your government will not survive even 24 hours,” BJP lawmaker Gopal Bhargava, the leader of Opposition in the Madhya Pradesh assembly, said.

Kamal Nath shot back: “Your top No. 1 and No. 2 are sensible, that is why they are not giving such orders. You are free to bring in a no-confidence motion.”

The Congress-Janata Dal Secular government, hobbling since it took power in Karnataka in May last year, failed a trust vote after multiple resignations over the past two weeks. The two parties have accused the BJP of engineering the resignations as part of its strategy dubbed “Operation Kamala (lotus)” to seize power by inducing lawmakers to switch sides.

The Congress has also accused the BJP of prepping “coups” to take over every part of India after its national election victory in May.

Gopal Bhargava later told news agency ANI that the Congress was in much worse shape in Madhya Pradesh than in Karnataka.

“It is a coalition based not on any ideological compatibility or principles, but on greed. The day their demands are not met, the coalition will fall. I believe that the situation in Madhya Pradesh is much worse than that of Karnataka,” Mr Bhargava said.

“It is a big surprise that the (Madhya Pradesh) government has managed to stay in power for seven months,” he remarked.

The Congress came to power in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh in December, ending the BJP’s rule in all three, but needed help from parties like Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) to touch a majority. In the national election, the Congress was wiped out in all three.

In the weeks after the Congress’s national rout, it has suffered exits and defections in states like Goa, Telangana and Karnataka.

Insisting that the BJP had no role in toppling the Karnataka coalition, Mr Bhargava said: “Every day, we hear news that MLAs in many states are joining us. BJP has become so attractive that people are drawn to it, what can we do if a similar thing happens in Madhya Pradesh?”

Was the BJP ready to stake claim to power in Madhya Pradesh, the lawmaker was asked.  “We will follow the direction of our party’s high command. We are not desperate to form government,” Mr Bhargava said.

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