By Sunil Garodia
First publised on 2020-03-20 19:17:36
In an anti-climax and a situation where the hot-air balloon that Kamal Nath had been holding aloft for the last few days by displaying unwanted bravado got punctured, the Madhya Pradesh chief minister resigned ahead of the floor test ordered by the Supreme Court today. Kamal Nath said the usual things like the BJP had murdered democracy by poaching its MLAs and that turncoats like Scindia cannot be trusted or that no one can bring harm to Madhya Pradesh. But the fact remains that for once, the wily and in-your-face politician was at a loss for words. He had been out-maneuvered and outfoxed by the political developments and it showed on his face. It must have also hurt immensely because the person who did it - Jyotiraditya Scindia - was considered a genial Maharaj (not in the royal sense but a derogatory one which suggested that he was where he was only due to his lineage) who could do things only because of the support of the Congress high command.
But it is surprising that a Machiavellian politician like Nath, and the other Madhya Pradesh stalwart Digvijay Singh, could not gauge the seriousness of Scindia's revolt or the support he had among the MLAs. It is also surprising that they managed to convince the Congress high command (or given its disinterested detachment of late, maybe it is not all that surprising) not to take Scindia seriously. When Scindia first said that he would hit the streets if the promise made in the Congress manifesto to farmers for loan waivers was not kept and the government did not take action in a few days, Nath was at his combative best and challenged Scindia to do so without trying to placate him. When the first signs of revolt surfaced and 6 MLAs went missing, Nath was flustered but when they returned after a couple of days, he was lulled into a false sense of security and said that the BJP's attempt to dislodge him had failed. Even then he could not anticipate that it was a diversionary tactic by the rebel camp to see what he does and how he tackles a revolt.
Hence, when the real bomb hit - 22 MLAs fooled him in various ways with some saying they were going on a pilgrimage - he was caught napping. The coordinated rebel move came when Nath was in Delhi and was conducting a series of meeting with the Congress high command over the political situation in the state. He rushed back to Bhopal but by then it was too late. All his attempts to contact the rebels were unsuccessful and Scindia left the Congress to join the BJP. Yet, Nath and the Congress kept saying that the MLAs were held captive by the BJP against their wishes and that he will prove his majority in the assembly. It took an order from the Supreme Court to ground him. On the day the court asked him to prove his majority on the floor of the house, Nath said that he would get a legal opinion on what can be done. He was playing for time till the last moment without realizing that Scindia had cooked his goose and none of the MLAs would return to the fold.