Madhya Pradesh chief minister designate Kamal Nath. (File photo)
Though Kamal Nath has won the race, his day-long wrangling on Thursday against Jyotiraditya Scindia, another claimant for the post of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, tells a lot about the delicate manoeuvring that the party’s Central leadership has to resort to in order to keep peace and accord among the warring sides.
Irrespective of the outcome of the tussle that will put Kamal Nath into saddle in MP soon, a virtual public display of arm twisting for the top post in the State throughout the day signifies the characteristic itch and yen for power among the second line of multiple leaders who are only a notch below the top of rung of the Congress leadership.
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This is starkly so despite the renunciation of the top post of the country, or Prime Ministership, by former Congress president Sonia Gandhi after leading the party to two successive victories in countrywide general elections in 2004 and 2009. Her son Rahul Gandhi, too, has never betrayed any lust for power either before or after taking the reins of the party from her since last year or so.
Yet, both son and the mother were put to push and pull by their virtual party lieutenants on Thursday belying the tall talk of unity until the other day among the party’s State-level satraps not only in Madhya Pradesh but also the other two States, or Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. The Congress could, indeed, win back power after years of wilderness in the three States, courtesy the verdict given by the people on Tuesday evening in favour of the party.
Yet, the kind of race for power that has been set off by this could only bring warmth to the hearts of the party’s adversaries, or mainly the BJP. Thus, the less said about the fierce tussle for power among the other day’s winners from the provinces on their merrily landing up in Delhi to make their so-called ‘strong’ claims for the top position in their domains, the better.
The indications that came out from the closed-door talks in Delhi to decide the fate of both the provinces that went to the polls since last month as also that of party leaders of these States point among other things to the great dependence of the Central leadership, or the Congress high command, upon its State leaders.
This is more so in the case of Madhya Pradesh, though the warring state leaders have often been part of Congress’ Central team both in times when the party was in power and also when it lost its sway to the BJP at the national level. And as the state heroes of the party try to keep the Central leadership in a precarious zone with their demands, on the one hand, they also try to thrive on the other through the precariousness of the party in the state.
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No other state can illustrate this better than Madhya Pradesh that called for prolonged talks before the nod came in favour of Kamal Nath. The party in the State had remained two seats short of crossing the halfway mark to attain a simple majority; and thus the two seats won by the BSP, or Bahujan Samaj Party led by Mayawati, became crucial for the Congress.
Since only Kamal Nath personally reached out to Mayawati to seek support given her antipathy towards Digvijaya Singh and a stark contrast between her Dalit constituency and blue-blooded Scindia scion, the Chhindwara Congress strongman and nine-time MP Kamal Nath was given the nod by the Congress high command to be sworn in as MP Chief Minister soon. Thus, he has been able to score over his two other rivals with whether overt or covert claims for the top post in MP.
The Congress’ desire to make bridges with Mayawati has proved too strong and, thus, Kamal Nath, got ahead of both Jyotiraditya and Digvijaya Singh and is now set to become Chief Minister in MP.
Yet, the fact is that Kamal Nath can hardly be said to be farmer-savvy face given his upper, or top, class tastes and training besides business and corporate interests that he has. Despite this, the choice for the stewardship of MP strangely fell on him though the Congress has won last month’s polls in the State because of staunch support coming mainly from the peasantry.
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