The Madhya Pradesh Congress is contesting the Jhabua Vidhan Sabha bye-elections under the shadow of factional divide. At a time when the party should be devoting its entire energy to consolidating its electoral base, its leaders are dispatching letter after letter to the chief minister, making various demands.

Among others, Jyotiraditya Scindia has written several letters to the chief minister Kamal Nath. In one such letter, Scindia has demanded metro service for Gwalior, which happens to be his hometown. He also demanded setting up of a Sainik School in Morena. He has also complained about delay in waiver of farm loans. He also said that loan waiver is not being done as promised in the ‘Vachan Patra’ (manifesto) issued by the Congress on the eve of the Vidhan Sabha elections last year. He also demanded compensation to the tune of Rs. 50 lakh each to the families of two Dalit children, who were killed by the upper caste people after they were found defecating in the open. Scindia also demanded that the two families should also be given 10 bighas of agriculture land.

Similarly, former chief minister Digvijaya Singh wrote letters to the chief minister making several demands. In a recent letter, Singh complained that enough is not being done for the protection of cows in the state.

Scindia recently told a public meeting that defeat in his traditional Lok Sabha constituency had left him a broken man. “I am yet to overcome the shock of defeat. Despite that I will continue to work for the wellbeing of the people,” he said.

Perhaps reacting to public criticism by party stalwarts, chief minister Kamal Nath said that people forget that he had inherited the state which was financially bankrupt, which was number one in the country as far as farmer suicides were concerned. It was also number one in the rate of unemployment, it was also a cesspool of corruption. It will take time to get rid of the multiple problems faced by the state.

The BJP, during its 15-year rule destroyed the administrative system. The BJP chief minister only made promises. Even several of own party leaders used to call the then chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan ‘Ghoshna Veer’ (promises warrior). He assured that he would turn Madhya Pradesh into the most prosperous state in the country. “I have launched several such schemes which will usher in an era of prosperity for Kisans and huge employment opportunities for youth,” he said.

The Congress however, suffered another setback when Narayan Tripathi, a BJP MLA who voted with the Congress during the budget session of the Vidhan Sabha and gave broad indication that he was joining the ruling party, announced publicly that he was still with the BJP. Appearing before the media persons he claimed that the BJP would again form its government in MP. Congress scoffed at it and said the government is unaffected by Tripathi’s move.

Tripathi and another BJP MLA Sharad Kol had voted in favour of an amendment bill tabled by the government in the Assembly on July 24 last, leaving the BJP deeply embarrassed. Tripathi had even attacked former CM Chauhan for poor development of his area and accompanied Kamal Nath to a press conference soon after voting on the side of the Congress.

Less than a month ago, Kol had publicly announced that he was with the BJP. And on Tuesday, Tripathi turned up at the BJP head office – for the first time since the July 24 controversy – to say that he had Kol had never said that they were quitting the saffron party.

“I never left the BJP. I had voted in favour of the amendment and not in favour of the Congress in the Assembly. It was a sudden impulse. It was Congress that spread misinformation about my joining the party. After voting, I accompanied chief minister Kamal Nath in my capacity as an MLA to get work done in my constituency. It is not new for MLAs to meet ministers and chief minister,” Tripathi said in the presence of state BJP President Rakesh Singh and other senior party leaders.

Tripathi, who had accused the state BJP leadership of “sidelining him to spoil his career”, said it was “temporary squabble which is over now.” “Every party has internal difference. I had complained against poor development in my area but never said that I was quitting the BJP. There was nothing (in Congress) to attract us. Even after voting in favour of the Bill, I had praised BJP President Amit Shah for his political acumen in amending Articles 370 and 35A. I still claim that the BJP will form the government in Madhya Pradesh very soon,” he said.

Defending Tripathi, Rakesh Singh said even in July he had rejected all speculations about the two BJP MLAs quitting the party. “I had said no one from the BJP will join the Congress or support the government on political issues. It was Congress that indulged in false propaganda and claimed that Tripathi and Kol would join the Congress soon and that the Congress now has a clear majority in the Vidhan Sabha with the support of the two BJP MLAs. The Congress also claimed that more BJP MLAs would be joining the Congress. But all these claims turned out to be hollow,” he said.

Tripathi is a chronic turncoat, having switched political loyalties many times in his political career. He began with the Samajwadi Party but switched to the Congress and won the Maihar assembly seat in 2013. He joined the BJP in the presence of the then chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and won the bye-elections in Maihar. He retained the constituency in the 2018 Vidhan Sabha elections.

Congress said it was unaffected by Tripathi’s move. “We will get his support if and when required. He did not join the Congress as in that case he would have lost the membership of the House,” party spokesperson JP Dhanopia said.

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