After the crushing defeat of the Congress in the recently held by-polls on 28 Assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh, speculation across political and media circles is that the Congress leadership is set for a complete overhaul in the state. As per reports, there is a possibility that former Chief Minister Kamal Nath may quit either as the Congress state unit President or as Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly.
During the Madhya Pradesh bypolls, Congress had claimed that it would return to power in the state through these by-elections. The party high command was also assured that the by-elections would create a major power shift in the state’s politics.
In contrast to the claims made by the Congress, the results have consolidated the BJP’s numero uno position and unnerved the Congress state unit organisation as well as the party high command. The party’s Central leadership has sought a report from State unit President Kamal Nath on the party’s debacle in the Madhya Pradesh bypolls.
As per Congress sources, the seats on which Congress candidates were defeated, the party’s district presidents and the election in-charge concerned are likely to face the axe. Top leadership of the organisation in the state may also be sacked. Former Chief Minister Kamal Nath had earlier insisted on resigning from the post of party’s state unit president but the party high command asked him to continue.
Earlier, the Congress lost power after former rebel Congress MP Jyotiraditya Scindia along with his supporters quit the party and toppled the Kamal Nath-led Congress government by joining the BJP. However, with the loss in the by-elections to the assembly, the clamour for change in Congress state leadership has grown.
Among the major contenders for the Congress state President are former Union Minister Arun Yadav, former ministers Umang Singar, Kamleshwar Patel, Ajay Singh, Jeetu Patwari and Meenakshi Natarajan. At the same time the party wants to hand over the baton of the state to such a person who is trustworthy and a confidant of the party high command as well as maintains a good rapport with Kamal Nath. If Nath quits the post of Opposition leader in the Assembly it could be entrusted to any party MLA from the Scheduled Tribe (ST) community.
Political analysts believe that it is not an easy task for Kamal Nath to strengthen the Congress in the state which he is well aware of. That’s why he could resign from one of the two positions he currently holds. Nath can keep the party organisational base strong while holding on as the state unit president. If he stays as the Leader of the Opposition, the hold on the organisation will be weakened.
Therefore, there is a possibility that Nath might leave the post of Opposition leader in the Assembly and stay as Congress state unit President and boost the strength of the party so that the party could fight the panchayat and urban civic body polls with renewed vigour.