Former Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan may be named Chief Minister if the BJP returns to power
The Madhya Pradesh crisis took a dramatic turn late Tuesday evening after reports of differences within the state wing of the BJP, even as the party stands ready to topple the 15-month-old Congress government.
Sources spoke of a rift between MLA Narottam Mishra and former Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, both of whom had been linked to attempts to unsettle the Kamal Nath administration. According to sources, slogans in support of Mr Mishra were chanted on Tuesday and questions were raised over the role of Mr Chouhan in the chaos that has surrounded the Congress government.
Both Mr Mishra and Mr Chouhan have repeatedly denied any role in the current situation, saying that it merely reflects the Congress's inner problems.
Last week sources told NDTV Narottam Mishra and Shivraj Singh Chouhan were involved in a plot to unsettle the Madhya Pradesh government. The BJP, sources said, named the operation "Rangpanchami" because they wanted the government to fall on Holi.
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. Now it has been decided one will be chief minister, other the deputy".
Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who has served three previous terms as Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, has been tipped to return should the BJP succeed in toppling the Congress.
Meanwhile, sources have also said that the 17 Congress MLAs who had been flown to BJP-ruled Karnataka on Monday were unsettled by current events.
Last week sources told NDTV that BJP MLA Narottam Mishra may have been involved in attempts to unseat the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh
Ten of these MLAs, including two ministers, have indicated an unwillingness to join the BJP – as Mr Scindia is expected to today – and are ready to re-join the Congress, sources added.
According to sources the MLAs said they had only shifted to Bengaluru in Karnataka to show support for Jyotiraditya Scindia in his inner struggle with the Congress.
On Holi day the Kamal Nath government in the state was shocked by the resignation of four-time MP Jyotiraditya Scindia, who wrote to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, speaking of a "fresh start" and saying: "…this is a path that has been drawing itself out over the last year".
The Congress expelled him minutes later. Mr Scindia had reportedly long been unhappy with senior Congress leadership.
Mr Scindia, who has met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, is expected to join the BJP and get a union cabinet berth and a Rajya Sabha post.
Twenty-one other MLAs resigned with Mr Scindia, leaving the Kamal Nath government, which began Tuesday with 120 MLAs – four above the majority mark – near collapse.
Should their resignations be accepted it will leave the government in a minority.
Faced with that prospect, Chief Minister Kamal Nath has been defiant, saying he is confident his government will prove its majority and complete its term.
The Congress has denied Mr Scindia's perceived diminished say in party matters led to his revolt. Senior party leader and former Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh said "he was not at all sidelined" and, in a sarcastic swipe, wished Mr Scindia well "under ModiShah tutelage".