‘Kamal Nath has taken the responsibility of the entire election campaign’.
NEW DELHI: For most part of the last nineteen years, since the time the Congress lost power in Madhya Pradesh in 2003, its party leaders, rather than taking on the BJP, fought among themselves and “infighting” became a distinct identity of the party in the state.
This factionalism was somewhat arrested by the arrival of Kamal Nath into Madhya Pradesh politics who was named as the state party president in April 2018, six months before the assembly elections. With not much time in his hand and too much on his plate, he started focusing on revamping the moribund organization where party workers were recognized on the basis of the political camps they belonged rather than their ability to get votes.
When the Assembly elections arrived in November 2018, the Congress—by adding 56 more seats to its kitty than what it had got in the last election—was able to get 114 seats in the house of 230 MLAs and Kamal Nath was sworn in as the CM. Coincidentally, the loss of the BJP’s seat share from the last election was also 56. However, Kamal Nath was forced to resign from the CM chair without completing his tenure due to the rebellion by Jyotiraditya Scindia.
With the departure of Scindia this will be the first election in a long time when the entire Madhya Pradesh Congress will fight the election as one unit. On the other hand, the Shivraj Singh Chouhan led state BJP is now ridden with the multiple camps, a problem that for long was associated with the Congress.
Bhopal-based Congress leaders told The Sunday Guardian that now there is only one camp in Madhya Pradesh Congress, the Kamal Nath camp, with all other top leaders now working with him or under his guidance without running a parallel organization of their own.
According to them, Kamal Nath has taken the responsibility and the accountability of the entire election campaign and with the party leadership including Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi giving him a free hand, all other ‘big’ leaders are now focusing on their seats of influence instead of working on how to damage their own party colleague.
Among the few state leaders whom Kamal Nath takes input from regarding the poll preparation is former Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh, who was earlier accused by his own party men of promoting internal factionalism, the proof of which was never given.
In 2028, when the state will see its next election, both Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh will of 81 years old and both of them are aware that health might not allow them to campaign extensively in 2028 as they can do now.
“This is the last election for them and their only focus is to defeat the BJP. Apart from the interest of the party, they also have a lot of personal stake in this election as their own sons are also playing a key part in this election,” a party functionary close to Singh told The Sunday Guardian.
While Jai Vardhan Singh, the son of Digvijaya, will be seeking to win his third elections and become a strong contender for a powerful ministry if he wins and the Congress comes to power, Nakul Nath, the son of Kamal Nath, was earlier this year made a member of the powerful 21 members Political Affairs Committee signalling the fact that the junior Nath, who is a Lok Sabha MP from Chhindwara, is looking to take a more larger role in the state politics. Among the other members of this committee are both Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh, but Jai Vardhan was not included, which political observers say, show the political freedom and clout Kamal Nath enjoys so far as Congress in the state is concerned.