He has been appointing his old and new loyalists in district and division level coordination panels.

 

With the appointment of his loyalists in district and block level coordination committees, former Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh seems set to regain control over the party’s affairs in Madhya Pradesh (MP) where Assembly elections are due later this year, sources have said.

The buzz of Singh once again acquiring a key role, after 15 years of exile in MP politics, started two months ago when Kamal Nath, believed to be Singh’s choice, was appointed as the Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) president and he (Singh) himself was appointed as chief of the state coordination committee.

A source in the Congress told The Sunday Guardian: “Ever since his appointment as chief of the coordination committee, Singh has started actively appointing his old and new loyalists in the district and division level coordination committees. The new appointments have promoted factionalism in the state Congress on the ground.”

“It was believed that Kamal Nath had wider acceptability in the Congress and that could prevent factionalism in the state unit of the party, but his appointment as state party president couldn’t help much in this direction; instead he is being considered as a mask of Singh who is running the show from behind the scenes,” the same source cited earlier said.

“Factionalism could surface at the time of selection of candidates for the Assembly elections as Singh’s rivals feel that he can handpick his loyalists as candidates during ticket distribution. Any such open tussle will jeopardise the chances of dethroning the Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led Bharatiya Janata Party  government in the state,” the same source added.

However, denying any factionalism in the state Congress unit, Manak Agarwal, Congress spokesperson in MP, said: “Our focus is to win the Assembly elections and undo 15 years of Chouhan’s misrule. Every Congress worker in MP is working as a unit and there is no infighting at any level in the state. Every party worker is getting guidelines from senior leaders like Singh and Kamal Nath.”

In a telephonic conversation with this reporter, Agarwal said: “So far, the party has constituted block level coordination committees and the process for the formation of district level coordination committees is still underway. Appointments of members in these coordination committees are based on the merits of the workers.”

District and block level coordination committees are being constituted to provide help in charting out the electoral strategy from the ground to the state level. Digvijaya Singh started to constitute the coordination committee after his return from a six-month-long Narmada Yatra. By way of conducting the yatra, Singh got an opportunity to interact with his loyalists from across the state.

Explaining the importance of Singh in the upcoming Assembly elections in MP, a senior party functionary said: “Kamal Nath is bound to depend on Singh as his influence in MP politics is limited and confined to the areas around his Parliamentary constituency Chhindwara. On the other hand, Singh remains a mass leader who has a massive support base in the state. Also, Kamal Nath’s interaction with party workers is limited, while Singh still has greater connect with party workers on the ground.”

Singh, who is out of power since 2003 in MP, has publicly declared that he is not a contender for the Chief Minister’s post, but his posturing, say experts, seems to suggest that he is ready to be Chief Minister again.

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