Congress workers and party functionaries have asked the party high command to announce Chief Minister faces in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, states which go to polls later this year.
MP and Chhattisgarh based party leaders said that this was the last chance for the Congress to come to power in the two states which the BJP is ruling since 2003. The BJP, according to them, is facing massive disenchantment in both states and if the Congress is unable to form a government this time, then there will be no party workers left in 2023 for elections that year.
“We have asked the senior party leaders to announce a CM face to take on Shivraj Singh Chouhan who is personally very popular in the state. We have been taking inputs from the ground and booth level workers and all of them say that the voters ask them ‘Who will be the CM if we vote for you?’ We are expecting a name to be announced post 14 January when Kharmas (a time period considered as inauspicious) ends. Things have started moving very quickly since Rahul Gandhi took over as the party president and unlike in the past, when decisions were kept in abeyance for long, they are now being taken very quickly,” a senior Bhopal-based party functionary said. The reorganisation of the state Pradesh Congress Committee, which also includes a new team of spokespersons and a new state president along with the CM face, according to state party leaders, will be done after taking into consideration the inputs that have been shared by senior party leaders, including Jyotiraditya Scindia, Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh.
“It is a toss-up between Scindia and Kamal Nath (for the CM face). Scindia has his youth as a positive factor, while the experience and network that Kamal Nath has is something that cannot be ignored. Both are seasoned politicians and I do not expect either of them to sulk if they are not made the CM face. Both know, especially, Kamal Nath, who is 71 years old, how crucial it is for them, even at a personal level, to win back Madhya Pradesh,” a top party leader said.
According to Bhopal-based official sources, a “pre-election” survey, which is being conducted by the government to gauge the mood of the public, has painted a “grim” picture for the BJP in the state. This “negativity” was also discussed by the RSS’ top brass, who last week met in Ujjain during a “samanvay baithak”. Sources said that the BJP national vice-president Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, who is currently in-charge of party affairs in Madhya Pradesh and was recently appointed as the president of Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR), may be replaced.
In Chhattisgarh, where infighting among senior leaders is rampant, Congress party functionaries have asked the senior state leaders to project a CM face. “We need a face here. After the exit of Ajit Jogi, there is no leader with whom the voters can identify with. Punjab proved there is a massive benefit of having a face. We have leaders like Charan Das Mahant, Satyanarayan Sharma who have a sense of acceptability among the party leaders and voters. Even if we enter into an agreement with Jogi to contest the elections ‘together’, we would need a different state leader as Baghel and Jogi are sworn political enemies. Baghel played a crucial role in making sure that Jogi is pushed out from the party,” a Raipur-based party leader said.
State Congress leaders have sent repeated requests to the Congress national headquarters, asking for the appointment of a new team. They have also expressed their concern that it will not be prudent on the part of the Congress to mount attack against the BJP and Jogi simultaneously. “All the senior state leaders, apart from Baghel, are worried that we would waste our very limited resources if we take on two opponents at the same time,” a Congress MLA said.