Ahead of the Madhya Pradesh by-polls, the Election Commission on Friday revoked former Chief Minister Kamal Nath's star campaigner status for "repeated violations of the model code while campaigning". But while the run-up to the elections have been fraught with controversy, Nath appears to be unfazed.
Reacting to the news, Nath on Saturday said that being called the "star campaigner" was neither a post, nor a status. "I don't want to comment on EC's decision, will comment only after 10th November. In the end, public matters the most and they know everything," he was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
"The EC had not given me any notice, nor had it asked me about it. Why they are doing this in the last two days of campaigning only they know," he told PTI.
The Nath-led Congress government had crumbled earlier this year, after several party leaders, including Jyotiraditya Scindia rebelled against the Congress. The resignation of several MLAs who then joined the Opposition BJP had led to the collapse of the government. The by-elections assume greater significance as a clean sweep would allow the Congress to return to power. The polls are scheduled to be held on November 3.
Twenty-five of these seats fell vacant after sitting Congress MLAs resigned and joined the BJP, leading to the collapse of the Kamal Nath-led state government, while three seats fell vacant due to the death of their sitting MLAs. The BJP at present has 107 MLAs and needs to win just nine more seats to reach the magic figure of 116 - the simple majority mark in the 230-member house. In contrast, the Congress with its current strength of 88 legislators needs to win all the 28 seats to reach the majority mark of 116.
While Nath has projected an assured mien, expressing confidence that voters will remove the saffron party from power in the upcoming assembly bypolls, former party leader Scindia remains critical.
"I'm surprised at Kamal Nath's behaviour. Despite EC action and former Congress President asking him to apologise for his comments, he refuses to apologise. The public will make him say sorry on 3rd November and give a befitting reply to his ego," he told ANI on Saturday.