‘Lunch pe Charcha’: Kamal Nath Invites Party MLAs, Independents to Cong Office to Keep Flock United.

Bhopal: Amid allegations of horse-trading attempts by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Madhya Pradesh, Chief Minister Kamal Nath held a lunch on Tuesday with all his legislators in a bid to dispel rumours of threats to his government in the wake of exit poll results that indicate a thumping majority for the BJP nationally, including MP.

Held at the Pradesh Congress Committee office, the lunch was followed by discussions between Nath and the MLAs, including independents — Surendra Singh Thakur from Burhanpur, Kedar Davar from Bhagwanpura, Pradip Jaiswal from Wara Seoni and Vikram Singh Rana from Susner.

Nath, who spoke to reporters at the party office, brought the horse-trading charges against the BJP. “At least 10 MLAs have told me that they were approached by the BJP with offers of money and posts,” the chief minister said.

However, he claimed that all the MLAs were in touch with each other and no one was switching over.

Meanwhile, with an imminent threat to the Congress government in the state, a cabinet expansion seems inevitable. And, it is likely to happen sooner than later to placate sulking allies.

Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), in particular, was not impressed with denial of ministerial berths to its two MLAs. One of them, Rambai Singh has openly expressed resentment over the matter time and again.

Nath had offered a ministry to Independent MLA Pradeep Jaiswal, who had defeated former chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s brother-in-law Sanjay Singh Masani at Wara Seoni.

Masani had switched over to the Congress ahead of the assembly polls in dramatic manner after being denied a ticket by the BJP.

The Congress is banking heavily on these four independents as all of them were in the party before raising a rebellion and winning as independents in last year’s polls.

There are 28 ministers in the government and Nath can accommodate six more MLAs in the cabinet as ministers.

Other than the four independents, there’s two BSP MLAs and an SP legislator who would want to be obliged.

A hopeful independent MLA, Surendra Singh Thakur, told News18, “I am 100% sure I would be assigned a ministerial berth as and when the cabinet gets expanded.” However, he added that he hasn’t been contacted by the CM on this yet.

Thakur had fielded his wife Jaishree in the Lok Sabha election against Congress candidate Arun Yadav from Khandwa and only withdrew her nomination following an intervention by Nath.

“We are Congress family and had offered unconditional support to this government, but the people of our region expect development and would want me to be given a ministerial berth,” Kedar Dawar, another Independent, told News18.

At Tuesday’s lunch, Nath had also summoned party’s Lok Sabha candidates to the PCC office and offered them tips on how to be vigilant till counting came to an end on May 23.

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