Bhopal, Oct 15 : The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) managed to put the political clock back by three months in Madhya Pradesh by persuading rebel MLAs Narayan Tripathi and Sharad Kole who had voted against their own party to favour the Congress-led government, to remain in the party fold.
The two MLAs had vehemently opposed the BJP and its ways in various press conferences after helping the Congress pass a Bill on prevention of mob lynchings in the Assembly. On Tuesday, however, they sat alongside the BJP state president Rakesh Singh to claim they were in the saffron fold.
Both Tripathi, MLA from Maihar, and Sharad Kol from Beohari had not quit the BJP through the three months for fear of losing the membership of the legislature. In July, Tripathi had claimed he would never return to the BJP. So did Kol. The fact remains they never left the BJP.
Some political analysts believe the whole show has been enacted to turn the atmosphere in favour of the BJP in the Jhabua by-election. Jhabua goes to polls on October 21.
Gopal Bhargava, the leader of opposition who is the arch rival of former chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan went as far as claiming that Shivraj Singh would be sworn in as chief minister again after Deepavali. As far numerical strength of the parties is concerned nothing has changed after Tuesday's developments.
Tripathi, visited the BJP headquarters for the first time since the Assembly vote and said, "I was and will continue to be with the BJP. I was in contact with Congress ministers and Chief Minister Kamal Nath to ensure development work in my constituency continues." He claimed he and Kol voted for the Criminal Law (Madhya Pradesh Amendment) Bill 2019 believing the BJP was supporting it.
Congress media cell coordinator Narendra Saluja said, "Tripathi and Kol had supported the Congress during the Assembly session. They are free because they had not joined Congress. The two MLAs had even condemned BJP policies while extending support to us." Incidentally, after voting for the Congress, Tripathi and Kol had termed it a "homecoming".
Tripathi has had a long history of party-hopping. He had quit the Congress in April 2014 to join the BJP. He was first elected as Samajwadi Party (SP) MLA from Maihar in 2003. Later he fought on a Congress ticket in 2013. The Congress had never claimed having admitted the two into the party.
During this, Narayan Tripathi said that he is also going to campaign in Jhabua by-election on Tuesday. He also said that after the removal of Article 370 from Kashmir, he had also tweeted praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Not many people know the price tag the two MLAs were carrying. But a faction-ridden Congress will have to check whether it can compensate them and some more suitably while it has not been able to accommodate the existing lot.