In its first official reaction to the Supreme Court ordering a floor test in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly on March 20 by 5 pm, the MP Congress exuded confidence in saving its government in the state. Speaking to the media, MP Sports Minister Jitu Patwari mentioned that Chief Minister Kamal Nath had always expressed his willingness to face a floor test. According to him, it was essential for the rebel Congress MLAs holed up in Bengaluru to take part in the floor test. Patwari also indirectly disapproved of the apex court not taking any action against BJP leaders who had allegedly kept the dissident MLAs in captivity.
Jitu Patwari remarked, “We were always ready. The honourable CM said that we are ready for the floor test. It was essential that the MLAs who have been kidnapped and whose phones are switched off to be here to safeguard democracy. The government is ready for the floor test in any situation. We are 100% confident. I do not want to publicly talk about this. But it is necessary for the MLAs who are elected by the votes of people to discharge their duty. The law has its own limitations. In the judicial system, there are situations when the person who commits the crime gets away.”
Scindia’s sudden resignation from the Congress party on March 10 was followed by 22 Madhya Pradesh Congress MLAs putting in their papers. Even as Assembly Speaker NP Prajapati has accepted the resignation of 6 MLAs, Congress is making all possible attempts to woo back some of the dissident MLAs as the stability of its government is in serious threat. On March 14, a BJP delegation met Lalji Tandon and sought the Assembly session to be convened before March 16 so that a floor test could be held. This was followed by the MP CM seeking Union Home Minister Amit Shah's intervention in the safe return of the Congress MLAs allegedly held captive in Bengaluru. Finally, the Governor directed the Speaker to conduct a floor test on March 16, the first day of the budget session. However, the Speaker adjourned the Assembly till March 26 in view of the novel coronavirus crisis without conducting the floor test.
The SC's verdict came on a plea of BJP leaders seeking an immediate floor test. The two-judge SC bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta observed that the MP Assembly session should be reconvened on Friday for the sole purpose of holding a floor test by show of hands. The entire proceedings will be videographed and telecasted live if possible. Moreover, the bench directed the authorities to ensure that there is no breach of law and order. Most importantly, the rebel MLAs have not been compelled to attend the session. However, the DGP of Karnataka and MP have been asked to ensure the security of the aforesaid legislators if they choose to be a part of the floor test.