Bhopal: MP likely to see 'Operation Lotus' redux during Prez poll

IANSUpdated: Saturday, July 16, 2022, 01:16 PM IST
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Shivraj Singh Chouhan (L) Kamal Nath (R) | FPJ

By Praveen Dwivedi

Bhopal, July 16 (IANS) After the BJPs 'Operation Lotus toppled the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh in March 2020, the Opposition is now suspecting that the saffron partys operation may be visible here again during the Presidential elections.

If sources are to be believed, it is suspected that at least five to six Congress MLAs, if not more, may vote for the NDA's Presidential candidate Draupadi Murmu.

Sources in the Congress told IANS that two-three tribal leaders, who believe that they will not be getting tickets from the party in the 2023 assembly elections, may cross-vote for the NDA candidate on Monday. However, some other sources claimed that there are five to six Congress MLAs who may cross-vote, including one from the Gwalior-Chambal division and a non-tribal.

Sources said that though several Congress MLAs are in touch with the BJP, the saffron party is specifically targeting the stronghold areas of the Congress so far and therefore tribal leaders are its target.

The Congress, which claims to have revived in the municipal and district panchayat elections (though the results are yet to be announced) is worried that if the BJP's 'Operation Lotus' is again successful in Madhya Pradesh, it would have a psychological effect on the party for the next assembly elections, which is scheduled in 2023.

On Thursday, during the visit of joint opposition Presidential candidate Yashwant Sinha to Bhopal, 77 out of the 96 Congress MLAs attended the legislature party meeting. Clarifying on the absence of 19 MLAs from the meeting, state Congress spokesperson Abbas Hafeez said, "Those who couldn't attend the meeting had already told the party leadership about their inability to attend the meet in view of the counting of votes in the local body polls in their districts."

However, a senior Congress MLA from the Malwa-Nimar region said that the party was aware that there were some black sheep, who may cross-vote for the NDA candidate on July 18. "There were around 3-4 MLAs, particularly tribal MLAs from Dhar-Jhabua region who may vote in the name of respecting larger tribal sentiments," the MLA told IANS requesting not to be named.

"It is very clear that nearly half-a-dozen Congress MLAs are queuing up before senior BJP leaders, but the BJP is not in a hurry now, until the next assembly elections come near. Many of those who joined the BJP with Jyotiraditya Scindia, most probably will be given another chance. To fill that vacuum, the saffron party will target Congress leaders for the next assembly elections," said a senior journalist.

In March 2020, Madhya Pradesh had witnessed the BJP's 'Operation Lotus' like in Maharashtra recently. The then mass resignation of 22 MLAs had resulted in the toppling of Congress Chief Minister Kamal Nath, 15 months after he had come to power. Several Congress legislators resigned soon after senior Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia joined the BJP.

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