Bhopal: Madhya Pradesh Congress leader Kamal Nath’s remark that party member Jyotiraditya Scindia “can hit the streets if he wants to” rankled with the MLAs who were loyal to him and led to their exit from the party, former MLAs said.
Mr Scindia, a former Union minister, and 22 MLAs who supported him quit the party earlier this month and joined the BJP, leading to collapse of the Chief Minister (now former) Kamal Nath-led government in Madhya Pradesh.
“The sidelining of our leader for the last 15 months and the (then) chief ministers statement ‘let him take to the streets then’ was the trigger that resulted in never-before exodus by legislators including six cabinet ministers,” said Tulsiram Silawat, one of the ministers who resigned.
It was believed that one of the demands of Mr Scindia was that Mr Silawat, his loyalist, be made the deputy chief minister.
Mr Silawat said that “nobody in the history of Congress party had put all his might at stake for making a Dalit leader deputy chief minister, like Mr Scindia did.”
“What was wrong with it?” he asked.
“The Congress came back to power in Madhya Pradesh because Mr Scindia was the party’s face. We had made lots of promises to people before assembly elections in 2018 and when our leader said if the promises were not fulfilled, then he will hit the roads, what was wrong with it,” asked Dr Prabhram Chouhdary, another former minister.
“Instead of addressing the concerns of our leader, the then chief minister and other ministers humiliated him by telling media that he should hit the roads, if he wanted to,” said another former minister Mahendra Singh Sisodia.
To senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh calling Mr Scindia and his supporters “betrayers,” Mr Sisodia said even Laxman Singh, Mr Digivijay’s brother, had once joined the BJP, but he was not dubbed as betrayer by his elder brother.
Former minister Govind Singh Rajput refuted allegations that the BJP paid them huge sums of money for switching loyalty.
“It is a totally baseless allegation and an attempt to malign our leader’s image,” he said.
When asked at what point they decided to part ways with the Congress, all of them said that Kamal Nath’s dismissive remark about Mr Scindia was the turning point. “Now everyone can see who is on the street,” they added.
“They label us traitors, but in reality it was they who remained silent and did not oppose anti-people decisions (of Kamal Nath government),” said another former minister, Pradyumna Singh Tomar.
“Not just the chief minister, but even officials were not listening to our problems… in this country people can’t even think of quitting the post of sarpanch, but we resigned as cabinet ministers for the pride of our Maharaj (as Mr Scindia is often referred to),” Mr Rajput said.