In the last few days, we have seen Congress party employing “Resort Politics” to tuck its Madhya Pradesh MLAs away at a secure place while the situation in the state appeared ripe for political upheaval. The huddling of Congress MLAs from Madhya Pradesh in a plush resort on the Delhi-Jaipur road last week heralded the impending political crisis in the state.
The Congress’ move to flock their MLAs to a safe location came amidst high-octane political drama that ensued following the resignation of Congress strongman Jyotiraditya Scindia along with 22 Congress legislators in Madhya Pradesh, sending shock waves to the Kamal Nath-led Congress government in the state. The resignation of the rebel legislators reduces the Madhya Pradesh assembly from 230 to 206, with the Congress party having 92 seats and the rival BJP having 107 seats. In such a scenario, BJP can easily cross the halfway mark of 104 for a majority, thus forcing the collapse of Kamal Nath-led government in the state.
In order to avert the looming crisis and possible defection of remaining MLAs to the BJP camp, Madhya Pradesh CM Kamal Nath sent the legislators to Buena Vista Resorts in Jaipur last week. In the meanwhile, the former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan filed an appeal in the Supreme Court seeking floor test in the state legislative assembly immediately. The apex court on Tuesday issued a 24-hour notice to the Kamal Nath government seeking a response on Chauhan’s petition by Wednesday morning 10:30 am.
In the annals of India’s political history, “Resort Politics” is not a new phenomenon. Incidentally, it was pioneered by the Congress party back in 1995 when they allegedly conspired with Shankersinh Vaghela and toppled the BJP government in Gujarat. Vaghela who had felt sidelined in the BJP because of Keshubhai Patel, flew out 45 BJP MLAs to Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh (where Digvijaya Singh of the Congress was the Chief Minister) where he was sheltered with the rebel MLAs with the aid of the Congress regime in the state.
Later, after a middle ground was reached, Suresh Mehta was sworn in as the chief minister of Gujarat in October 1995 whose government lasted only for 11 months. In the subsequent elections, Vaghela became chief minister with Congress support and ruled the state for around two years before merging his newly formed Rashtriya Janata Party with it.
When faced with a political conundrum, Congress has often resorted to “Resort Politics”, most recently after the fallout between the erstwhile alliance partners BJP and Shiv Sena in Maharashtra. With no political party having a decisive majority to form a government in Maharashtra, Congress had holed up its Maharashtra MLAs in a resort near Jaipur to mull over the possibility of joining hands with the ideological rivals Shiv Sena to stop the BJP juggernaut. Eventually, the Congress and the NCP allied with the Shiv Sena party in Maharashtra and formed Maha Vikas Aghadi in the state with Shiv Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray as the state chief minister.
However, history appears to have come full circle as Congress seems to be at the receiving end of its “Resort Politics”. The BJP in Madhya Pradesh, the place where the first instance of Congress’ “Resort Politics” manifested, is all set to dethrone the Kamal Nath led Congress government in the state. It has housed the rebel 22 Congress MLAs, including the 6 ministers from Kamal Nath’s cabinet, in a resort in Karnataka to stave off Congress’ desperate attempts to lure back their MLAs in order to somehow cling to power in Madhya Pradesh.
However, this is not the first time that the BJP will be trouncing the Congress party in its own game. In July 2019, during the intense power tussle in Karnataka, the Congress and the JDS had herded its MLAs in resorts to keep the flock together. However, the encampment of the MLAs did not help the Congress party as the BJP adroitly toppled the 14-month long Congress-JDS government in the state and formed its own government.