“The BJP has done nothing else but topple a government which came by votes, with a government which has come by notes. Will people accept voting for somebody now who has been purchased,” Nath asked during an interview to ET ahead of the November 3 bypolls to 28 seats which will determine whether Shivraj Singh Chouhan remains the chief minister or Kamal Nath makes a return. “The BJP is in tremendous distress. If they were not so desperate, would they go buy another Congress MLA today,” Nath said, referring to yet another Congress MLA jumping ship to the BJP on Sunday. “The RSS feedback they are getting is that they are losing badly. Chouhan is just trying to save face by saying he will save his government. They are using the administration while the EC is a silent spectator to all this. I am contesting the BJP, the government of MP and I am contesting the EC,” he said.
On paper, the Congress with 87 seats currently faces an uphill task of winning all 28 by-poll seats to reach the majority figure of 115 in an assembly that stands reduced to 229 seats with the latest resignation. Nath however says this is not correct and claims seven ‘other’ MLAs are with the Congress. “There are seven ‘others’ — four independents, two of the BSP and one of the SP. Who were they with when our government was there? They will go with whoever is forming the government. So, seven (MLAs) I have. They are in touch with me,” Nath said.
The BJP, which has 107 seats, claims the seven MLAs are with it and hence it just needs to win one or two seats to remain in power after the bypolls.
“Can the BJP name me two seats they can win,” Nath asked. “I am very confident of the voter of MP whom the BJP has fooled for a long time. I am looking forward to a new development plan for MP,” he said.
The former CM took exception to remarks of ex-Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia to ET last week that 26 seats won in Scindia’s Gwalior Chambal region in 2018 had made Nath the CM then.
“Scindia saying he won 26 seats for the Congress in Gwalior-Chambal is a sham. We all know who won how. He built up this sham before Rahul Gandhi also until I exposed him. Also, if that was so, why did he lose himself from the Guna Lok Sabha seat later? There he lost to a Congress worker, not to any big tiger of the BJP. Rahul Gandhi decided to take a vote of MLAs after we won the state polls. Ask Scindia how many votes did he get? He wanted to become the CM with 20 MLAs. They were not all from Gwalior-Chambal region too. He will say my people did not get tickets. He had no people who were deserving of tickets,” Nath said.
He said people were seeing through BJP’s deception. “What have they done in the last seven months in power? There is more farmer distress, there is more Covid, everyone has seen how migrants had to come back. Don’t people realise that this BJP government has been made by a deal? People are realising that they had voted the BJP out in 2018 in the state and then 25 of the Congress MLAs sold themselves,” Nath said.
Asked why even Digvijaya Singh was missing from the campaign for the Congress, Nath said: “Singh is helping me, organisation work is also important. We distributed 28 tickets without even one revolt.”
Nath’s comment of “item” on a woman minister, Imarti Devi, has created a furore during the campaign. “I meant no disrespect to women. I have said so that I express regret if someone thought so. I am used to Lok Sabha where it is said Item No 1 … Item No 2 so and so,” Nath said.
The bypolls are being seen as a do-or-die battle for 74-year-old Nath’s political career. “I have contested more elections than anybody else and managed more elections than anyone else as the general secretary in-charge of the Congress,” he said.
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