The Congress has been unable to reach former union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia - at the centre of political trouble brewing in Madhya Pradesh for the 15-month-old Kamal Nath government - because he has "swine flu", MP Digvijaya Singh told reporters last night. This afternoon, however, Mr Scindia quit the Congress after meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
"We tried to contact Scindia ji (Jyotiraditya Scindia) but it is being said that he has swine flu, so haven't been able to speak to him," Mr Singh said last night.
This morning, however, Mr Scindia - a four-time parliamentarian - showed up in Delhi to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi and quit the Congress. Visuals showed Mr Scindia and Amit Shah leaving in the same car.
In a resignation that he shared on Twitter, Jyotiraditya Scindia - once closer to the Gandhis - said he has quit the Congress. "Having been a primary member of the Congress Party for the last 18 years, it is now for me to move on," the letter read.
The developments came a day after a flurry of meetings were held in both the Congress and BJP camps after more than 17 Congress legislators - -- including six ministers -- loyal to Jyotiraditya Scindia flew out to Bengaluru in the BJP-ruled Karnataka. Sources have said 20 MLAs supporting the Congress are ready to quit.
In an apparent dig at the defectors, Digvijaya Singh last night said: "Whoever will try to disrespect the voters' mandate in Madhya Pradesh, will get a befitting reply from the people in the state... If you ask me, all is well."
"Jo sahi Congressi hai... wo Congress me rahega (Whoever is Congressman at heart, will continue to stick around in the party)," he added..
The Congress was desperately trying to negotiate a compromise and a formula will be offered to to send the 49-year-old former MP to Rajya Sabha as first preference candidate, sources in Madhya Pradesh Congress told NDTV.
Twenty ministers in the Madhya Pradesh cabinet resigned last night after Chief Minister Kamal Nath tried resolving the crisis with plans for a cabinet rejig. "I won't let those forces succeed which are creating instability with mafia's help... which are creating instability in government, a government created by people of Madhya Pradesh," he was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
The BJP has called its MLAs to Bhopal for a show of strength today evening. Sources said Shivraj Singh Chouhan could be chosen the leader of the legislative party in the meeting.
Mr Chouhan, however, last night had said he is not interested in bringing down the state government in Madhya Pradesh. "We have nothing to do with this. This is Congress's internal matter and I would not like to comment on it. We had said on the first day that we are not interested in bringing down the government," he told reporters.
In the 230-member state assembly, the Kamal Nath government has 120 MLAs, just four over the majority mark of 116. 114 are from the Congress, two from the BSP, one Samajwadi Party and four are independents. The BJP has 107 MLAs and two seats are currently vacant.
If 17 exit, the Congress, which will be left with 97 MLAs, will lose its second state since Karnataka.
(With inputs from PTI, ANI)