Crisis in Madhya Pradesh Congress turns into ‘war’

Bhopal, Sep 4 (IANS) The crisis in Madhya Pradesh Congress has snowballed into a full-fledged war between the Jyotiraditya Scindia faction and the rest.
As anticipated, senior party leader Digvijaya Singh, who has been trying to run both the party and government from the backseat, is facing the ire from not just Scindia supporters but from some loyalists of Chief Minister Kamal Nath too.
Kamal Nath has held the PCC chief’s post for more than 16 months now while Scindia camp wants him to be handed the reins.
The boiling point was a letter one of the young ministers Umang Singhar wrote earlier this week to Sonia Gandhi complaining against Digvijaya Singh’s ‘Prima Donna’ attitude and excessive meddling in the government.
Scindia camp was made to believe he lost Chief Minister’s race to Kamal Nath. The others say he is seeking his “pound of flesh” for sacrificing the claim.
Whatever his merit as a state leader, particularly after having lost his family bastion of Guna, Scindia, 47, has shown he wants a position of authority in the state. His close associates say he won’t hesitate exploring prospects outside the Congress.
His supporters in Gwalior-Chambal region have hit the streets demanding party reins for him or they could quit. One of them threatened immolation on Tuesday in Gwalior.
Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh may have many differences but they are together against Scindia.
Digvijaya, who toured the state extensively to unite the party for assembly elections and wrest power from BJP is consolidating personal power. He has had the maximum gains. He lost the Lok Sabha elections comprehensively, but is a member of Rajya Sabha. His brother is an MLA and a nephew is a minister.
His son Jaivardhan, 33, is the youngest MP Cabinet Minister. BJP leaders, including former Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, call him ‘super chief minister’.
Digvijaya has denied any interest in party post but he wouldn’t like the post to go to Scindia.
Kamal Nath wants his loyalist, Home Minister Bala Bachchan, a tribal leader as state chief.
Nath had resigned from the party state chief’s post after the Congress debacle in the Lok Sabha, but he has been asked to continue till a replacement is found.
The state leadership has sent a list of names of leaders including that of Scindia. The party leaders in the state say Sonia Gandhi would take a call on the issue. Nath and Scindia separately met Sonia in New Delhi recently.
Can Scindia quit the Congress?
“Our leader has more than two dozen MLAs including Ministers in his camp,” a Scindia loyalist boasted.
“He played a vital role in the Congress’ win in the state. If he wanted to quit the party, he could have done that in December on being denied the chance to become the Chief Minister,” one of them argued.
Party spokesman Pankaj Chaturvedi has scotched reports about Scindia’s reported threat to quit the party. Scindia is a dedicated Congressman, he said. Chaturvedi is considered close to Scindia.
Last month, a loyalist Imarti Devi had expressed her displeasure publicly on Scindia being made the head of the party’s screening committee for Maharashtra Assembly polls.
“Rather, he should have been given the responsibility of MP,” she had said.
Scindia had tried to clear the air on Tuesday in Gwalior, saying that Congress chief Sonia Gandhi would take a call on the party’s new state chief and that would be acceptable to all.
The statement came two weeks after the speculation over social media that Scindia had served an ultimatum to the party leadership that he might defect if not made the state chief, and that the Congress government was facing a threat in the state.
The high command would possibly let the storm pass before deciding in the matter.
Little has gone right for Scindia during the past couple of months.
The party made him western Uttar Pradesh general secretary during the Lok Sabha elections. The results were poor. Now, he has been made the head of screening committee for Maharashtra Assembly polls.
Congress has to be “cautious” as Scindia has already welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government move of abrogating special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370, against his party’s stand, some party leaders say. Hard to say if they are his friends or foes.
But the BJP is watching the developments in the Congress keenly. The BJP may not have any use for Scindia under the circumstances unless he crosses over with all supporters. How wise will it be for him to join a party where two of aunts are under employed, says a senior BJP leader from the state.
The Congress has 114 MLAs in MP Assembly having 230 members, two short of simple majority. It was thriving on the support of 2 Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and 1 Samajwadi Party (SP) and 4 Independent MLAs.

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