With the recent spat within the Madhya Pradesh Congress between former chief minister Digvijaya Singh and former Union minister in the erstwhile UPA government Jyotiraditya Scindia in the presence of party president Rahul Gandhi the chinks in the party armour stand exposed.
The fangs of intense infighting have often stood the Congress in poor stead but there was a new-found determination among the top leaders that this time they would not fall prey to infighting and factionalism.
Seeing no room for compromise between the two senior leaders of the state Congress, Rahul Gandhi set up a three-member committee with Ashok Gehlot, Veerappa Moily and Ahmed Patel tasked to resolve the Digvijaya-Scindia tangle. With that, the cat is out of the bag and the spat is the talk of Madhya Pradesh.
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There was indeed a glimmer of hope that the perceptible feeling of anti-incumbency among the people could take toll on the Shivraj Singh Chauhan government which has been in the saddle for a decade-and-half.
As things stand, however, the BJP may well retain power in MP with the principal leaders under-cutting each other. While Digvijaya and Scindia were seen sniping at each other at the election cell meeting in Bhopal to give final shape to the list of candidates contesting the impending Assembly elections, there are also reports that the third heavyweight in the party’s electoral battle, Kamal Nath, who rose decades ago as a protégé of Sanjay Gandhi, is unhappy with Rahul Gandhi’s manifest promotion of Scindia.
The contrast with the BJP is all too glaring because there is cohesion within that party and Chauhan’s candidacy as chief minister for another term is virtually without a challenge from within. That being the case, Shivraj Singh Chauhan looks taller than he is in terms of his governance standards.
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The BJP, which a couple of months ago, looked down and out is today seeming to have bounced back and is being favoured for a win by bookies and opinion pollsters alike.
BJP cadres are indeed waiting for Prime Minister Modi’s blitzkrieg campaigning to add further impetus to the party and iron out some of the creases. There are sections of society that are angry with the BJP, including farmers and small-scale traders, who are waiting to teach the BJP a lesson.
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The real bone of contention within the Congress is who would be chief minister if the Congress were to come to power. That all the bigwigs are on their own ego trips and there is no love lost between them even as they profess unity is a hard reality of the times which the Congress is finding difficult to reconcile to.
What has gone against Digvijaya primarily is his tendency to shoot his mouth off. The manner in which he so brazenly played the Muslim card while he was in favour with the powers-that-be in the party proved a liability for the BJP and alienated a section of Hindus, it is now deemed.
The party has not forgiven Digvijaya for the loss of Goa to the BJP when he, as the Central leader in-charge of that state, did not manoeuvre to catapult it to power despite the Congress having won more seats than the BJP in the state elections. That the BJP eventually formed the government is blamed on Digvijaya.
Now that Rahul Gandhi is on a drive to cultivate a pro-Hindu image by visiting temples across the country and professing that he is a Shiv-bhakt, he is apparently keen not to rekindle the ire against Digvijaya for his pro-minorities stance in the past to the detriment of Hindus.
Jyotiraditya Scindia is doubtlessly the favoured one in the good books of Rahul but that has raised the ire of Kamal Nath who sees himself as senior and exalted and one who has for long been unjustifiably denied the chief ministerial mantle.
Indeed, the battle for supremacy within the MP Congress goes on with characteristic cut-throatism with deleterious effects on the electoral prospects in the upcoming elections.