Madhya Pradesh assembly speaker Narmada Prasad Prajapati has written to Governor Lalji Tandon to take concrete steps for safe return of the 16 MLAs who are at a resort in Bengaluru. The Congress claims that the MLAs - all Jyotiraditya Scindia loyalists who sent their resignation letters last week - have been "kidnapped" and "kept in captivity" at the resort by the BJP.
After being sidelined in the Congress for more than a year, Mr Scindia had joined the BJP last week.
On Tuesday, the Congress approached the Supreme Court, asking for its intervention for the release of the MLAs. The party has also claimed that they need to be present in the assembly for the trust vote.
In his letter to the Governor, the Speaker wrote, "In accordance with House Conduct and Business rules of the Vidhan Sabha, all the 16 MLAs were directed to appear before me in my office, but none of them turned up so far, owing to which their resignations are still under consideration before me".
The Speaker, who had said that he would go by the book before accepting any of the resignations, further wrote: "As the resignations of the MLAs were rendered to me not by them, their kin or well-wishers, but some other persons, hence the possibility of the resignations having been written by the missing MLAs under pressure is confirmed."
None of the 16 MLAs, he wrote, attended the assembly on Monday, the first day of the budget session. The relatives of some of these MLAs have expressed concern about their safety and security, "due to which, I being the State Assembly head, am also concerned about these MLAs," he wrote.
"As you're the constitutional head and guardian of the state, hence I request you to take concrete steps for safe return of the 16 missing legislators for addressing my and the MLAs' kin's concerns," the letter further read.
The letter was sent around 10 hours after the rebel Congress MLAs held a press conference in Bengaluru, making it clear that they were not held captive by anyone and had resigned on their own.
Most of the 22 rebel MLAs were flown to Bengaluru in BJP-ruled Karnataka last week in a chartered flight. On March 10, shortly after Mr Scindia quit the Congress, the 22 MLAs sent resignations to the Governor and the Speaker.
Mr Prajapati had directed the MLAs to appear before him personally. But on March 14, he accepted the resignations of six ministers who were among the rebels after they were sacked by the Governor as ministers on the advice of Chief Minister Kamal Nath.
Resignations of remaining 16 rebel MLAs are yet to be accepted.