Chhindwara Model Vs Gujarat Model
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath is fighting a three-tier election. The first is his own MLA poll, because he has to get elected to the state Assembly on order to continue being CM. The second is to ensure that his son, 44-year-old Nakul Nath gets elected as the MP from his former seat of Chhindwara. The third tier is that as MP CM he has to ensure that the Congress improves its tally in the state. Currently, of the 29 MPs the Congress has only 2 (one of them being Senior Nath himself). This task is made tougher by the fact that he is the sole star campaigner, with Digvijaya Singh tied down in Bhopal for he is contesting a tough election from there and Jyoyiraditya Scindia spending his time between Guna and until recently Western UP, of which he is in-charge. And in MP at least the election is being fought on a Narendra Modi vs Kamal Nath narrative, with the Prime Minister referring to a Tughlaq model of corruption (Nath’s Delhi address is Tughlaq Road) and Nath pitching his 75 days record against Modi’s five years and Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s 15 years. It’s getting to be a very colourful battle in this Hindi heartland state. Since Nath has spent only 75 days as CM before the model code of conduct kicked in, his favourite campaign phrase is to tell the voters “if you vote for the Congress MP from this area you will have the same haq (right) over me as the people of Chhindwara”. Some would say it’s the Chhindwara Model vs the Gujarat Model.
The Digvijaya-Kamal Nath equation
There is much speculation about the equation between Kamal Nath and his old friend and former CM Digvijaya Singh, for the latter is currently contesting the elections from Bhopal at Nath’s behest. Now Bhopal is a long way from Raghogarh, which is Diggy’s area of comfort, and is also a Hindutva stronghold. Apparently, Nath was keen that both Digvijaya and Scindia contest from a tough seat so that the Congress would give the BJP a good fight. He offered Digvijaya the choice between Bhopal, Indore and Jabalpur and Diggy chose the first one. But did he go along willingly or has he grudgingly walked into a trap to cut his stature in the state. However, if it’s a trap he could have said “no” as Jyotiraditya Scindia did when he was asked if either he or his wife Priya would like to contest from Gwalior. Currently, Scindia is MP from neighbouring Guna, which he clearly feels is a safer seat for him. So if Scindia said “no”, so could Digvijaya. Which makes one wonder as to what the two veterans from MP are up to.
Tale of Two CMOs
During the UPA there was a Cabinet Minister, who held the commerce portfolio, but whose heart was set on being the Chief Minister of his state. So keen was he that his staff were told to answer his phone with a “CM’s residence” or “CM office”, the CM in this case standing for Commerce Minister. But as luck would have it, it’s not him but his colleague Kamal Nath who was also a Commerce Minister in the UPA who got to have the actual CMO—Chief Ministers Office. Oh well!
Shotgun Sinha is much in demand as a star campaigner in his new party—from Priya Dutt in Mumbai to Nakul Nath in Chhindwara and then there is his own seat from Patna Sahib. While campaigning he always begins with a “Khamosh”! Then adds “ki main sankshep mein kuch points boloonga (I will be brief).” To which some in the crowd yelled back, “Please don’t be brief but give us all the details.” Not to be outdone Sinha replied, “Shanti mein bhi kranti hoti hai. Kuch toh mazboori hogi jo main bewaafa hua (Silence tells its own story. There must be a good reason why I left the BJP).” No wonder he is known as the Khamosh man.