The Congress will not be declaring any Chief Ministerial candidate in Madhya Pradesh ahead of the Assembly elections there, sources close to top state leaders of the party told The Sunday Guardian.
“The scene is very clear, Rahul Gandhi wants to reduce factionalism in Madhya Pradesh, and which is why Kamal Nath as well as Jyotiraditya Scindia have been awarded important positions ahead of the elections. At the same time, the high command has decided to go with the Gujarat formula (of not declaring any name), and that’s why no one has been declared the CM face,” a top source in the Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee told this reporter.
The source added: “If the high command is able to bring consensus between the opposing factions, we may get a CM face, but may be it will be announced only 15-20 days prior to the election.”
When asked if Kamal Nath’s appointment as PCC chief has curtailed Scindia’s hope for the top post, if the party comes to power later this year, sources said that Scindia’s chances remain “very bright”. They said that party president Rahul Gandhi liked Scindia. They, however, admitted that Digvijaya Singh putting his weight behind the nine-time Chinndwara MP, Kamal Nath has made Scindia’s chances dicey.
However, another source claimed: “Rahul Gandhi’s priority is to bring Congress to power in Madhya Pradesh. That’s why he will not announce any CM candidate initially but later on when the election date will come closer, he might announce a name.”
Commenting on the opposition Scindia faces from former CM Digvijaya Singh, the source quoted added: “Digvijaya Singh is not supportive of Jyotiraditya Scindia for the CM post. He has openly said he would like to propel Kamal Nath for this post. Ten years ago he had said the same, today also he is saying the same.”
The Congress on Thursday announced that former Union Minister Kamal Nath, 71, will be the new PCC chief in Madhya Pradesh. Scindia, the 47-year-old MP from Guna, was made the Congress campaign committee chief, a post many view his supporters see as a stepping stone to becoming the CM contender later. The development followed months of intense speculation on who would be the Congress’ face against MP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who has been in power since 2003 when Digvijaya Singh was ousted as CM.
The Congress also announced four working presidents for the state—Bala Bachchan, Jitu Patwari, Surendra Chaudhry and Ram Niwas Rawat. Sources said the appointment reflected that the Congress high command was maintaining the balance of power between Nath and Scindia.
“Ram Rawat is a Scindia loyalist. Bala and Jitu Patwari are from the Kamal Nath camp. Surendra Choudhary is from Rahul Gandhi’s camp,” a source said.
Nath and Scindia are the top contenders for the CM face of the grand old party. The Congress is hopeful that a marked anti-incumbency against Chouhan may help it return to power. Digvijaya Singh, who completed a successful mass-contact programme disguised as a spiritual, apolitical Narmada Yatra, has announced tactical support to Nath.
Sources said as elections approach in MP, the Congress will be borrowing heavily from its soft-Hindutva model in Gujarat, which is already being duplicated in poll-bound Karnataka.
“Soft Hindutva is going to stay. Scindia was in Rawatpura Dham on Thursday, where he did bhandara. Two days ago, he also met Shankaracharya Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati. Kamal Nath also met the seer—he went to his ashram near Chhindwara. You can say that, more or less, we are going to copy the Gujarat model,” top PCC sources in MP confirmed to this reporter.