MP CM Kamal Nath is reeling under pressure from Jyotiraditya and Digvijay

MP Chief Minister Kamal Nath with Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia
Silence has descended on the Madhya Pradesh unit of the Congress, at least for now. Congress President Sonia Gandhi had to step in to enforce peace in the state unit. In a bid to rein in the warring factions, an angry Gandhi met Chief Minister Kamal Nath and sent the matter to the disciplinary committee, led by A K Antony.

Nath said, “Soniaji has sent the matter to the disciplinary committee. It will take further action. Anyone who has any complaint can now put it before the committee.” 

Thus ended public accusations among the state's satraps.

Feuds started when the search for the next Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president began. There are many contenders and each is confident about his prospects. To make matters worse, Forest Minister Umang Singhar wrote to Gandhi, saying that former chief minister and Rajya Sabha member Digvijaya Singh was trying to establish himself as a parallel power centre in the state. The allegations came after it transpired that Singh had written to ministers, asking them about the action taken on his letters recommending transfers and other works.

If political watchers are to be believed, Singhar’s attack is not an exception. He has the support of the anti-Digvijaya Singh lobby in the Congress. It all started when Nath, who is also MP Congress committee president, asked the leadership to appoint a new PCC chief. There are many layers in this saga. Being chief minister, Nath does not want a strong state unit president. At the same time there are senior leaders who are eyeing the post. Singh wants someone loyal to him. Being a tribal leader and close to Rahul Gandhi, Singhar is also in the race. But former union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia is the most prominent among all. As soon as Nath met Gandhi, posters came up in Gwalior and Bhopal, asking Gandhi to make Scindia state unit president.

Scindia has been vocal on several things, which could be a pressure tactic. First he disagreed with his party position on the suspension of Article 370, relating to Jammu and Kashmir. Later when Singhar and Singh locked horns, Scindia said it was the responsibility of Nath to compose their differences.

Scindia, who was a contender for the chief minister’s post last year, has been reportedly unhappy with the central and the state leaderships. There were rumours that he might leave the party. Scindia has all the qualities to become the MPCC chief but what goes against him is the opposition of both Nath and Singh. 

A senior Congress leader said: “There are only two factions in the state Congress. One is the ‘Diggi’ camp and the other is the Scindia camp. Although Scindia lost the Guna Lok Sabha seat, he and his supporters think that being the most popular face of the party, he was the natural claimant for chief ministership.”

Political analyst Girija Shankar said: “Nobody knows what is happening in the Congress but one thing is clear that Nath is reeling from the pressure of Singh and Scindia. Both have a good base among the MLAs. Scindia wants to be the PCC chief to tighten his grip on the state’s affairs but Singh is much more powerful than him.”

Singh is writing to ministers and meeting industrialists, holding out assurances of consistency in policy matters. Former chief minister and BJP leader Shivraj Singh Chouhan dubbed him “super CM”.

Congress Spokesperson Pankaj Chaturvedi contests all this. He says Scindia is a dedicated Congressman. The Congress president will take a call on the new MPCC chief and her nominee will be acceptable to all.

Another contentious issue is Rajya Sabha seats. Three seats will fall vacant next year and the Congress is eyeing at least two of them. 

Political watcher Saji Thomos said: “The Congress is the ruling party and with the help of 121 MLAs, it has a clear edge in the Upper House elections. Two BJP MLAs also announced supporting the Congress in July.” Thomos feels the moves of Scindia could be related to a possible change of the guard in the state. He said: “Central agencies are going after Congress leaders. In case there is a change in leadership, Scindia is the obvious choice.”

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel