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All eyes on Scindia-Sonia meeting amid feud in MP Congress

Indian Express 2019-09-09 08:33:24

The development comes at a time when there are indications in political circles here that Scindia is eyeing the post of Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee president, a position currently held by Chief Minister Kamal Nath.

Amid infighting in the Madhya Pradesh Congress and jostling for the state unit chief’s post, senior leader Jyotiraditya Scindia is scheduled to meet party president on Tuesday in New Delhi.

The development comes at a time when there are indications in political circles here that Scindia (47) is eyeing the post of Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) president, a position currently held by Chief Minister Kamal Nath who wants his man for the top organisational job.

Some of his supporters in the Gwalior-Chambal region have taken to the streets, demanding their leader be appointed the MPCC chief failing which they threatened to quit the party which came to power in the state just nine months ago.

One of them, Anand Agrawal, even tried to immolate himself, near Gwalior station last week, demanding the former Guna MP be given charge of the Congress in the state, where the party is in power with a wafer-thin majority.

Scindia, who lost the race for chief ministership to Nath last year, is scheduled to meet Gandhi on Tuesday in New Delhi, barely three days after the CM called on her in the national capital in connection with the infighting in the state unit, a senior Congress leader told PTI Monday.

Gandhi, in a bid to end the feud, has referred the matter of Forest Minister Umang Singhar, who had last week launched a no-holds-barred attack on party veteran Digvijay Singh, calling him a “blackmailer” who was running a proxy government, to the central disciplinary committee, he added.

The panel, headed by senior leader and former Union minister A K Antony, is likely to submit his report to Gandhi by next week, he said.

The Congress chief’s move to refer the matter to the disciplinary committee came after Nath called on her on Saturday, a day after general secretary in-charge of MP Dipak Babaria handed over his report over the infighting to her, party sources said.

Singhar, a tribal leader believed to be close to the Scindia camp, attacked Digvijay Singh after failing in his attempt to become the state party president, they said.

However, Nath and former chief minister Singh, both 72, don’t want Scindia to become the MPCC chief, the sources said.

Jaivardhan Singh (33), the son of Digvijay Singh, who is also a Rajya Sabha member, is a Madhya Pradesh Cabinet minister.

leaders, including Nath’s predecessor , have dubbed Digvijay Singh as “the super chief minister”.

However, Jaivardhan Singh says Nath was the only power centre in Madhya Pradesh and his father was not meddling in the state government’s affairs.

A MP minister said Digvijay Singh, too, was in the race to become the MPCC chief, a post held by him in the past. However, the veteran leader has vehemently denied that he wants to become the partys state head.

Another minister said the tussle between Singhar and Digvijay Singh was a fallout of infighting going on over the state party chiefs post between different camps.

Nath wants to see his loyalist, Home Minister and tribal leader Bala Bachchan, as the MPCC president, the sources added.

Nath had resigned from the MPCC president’s post after the Congress’s debacle in the Lok Sabha polls, but he has been asked to continue till his replacement is finalised.

“Our leader has more than two dozen MLAs, including ministers, in his camp, a loyalist of Scindia told PTI.

“Our leader played a vital role in the Congresss win in (2018 assembly polls) MP, but missed the chance of becoming chief minister, he said.

“NoScindia has not given any ultimatum that he will quit if not made the party state chief, Congress spokesman Pankaj Chaturvedi said when contacted amid speculation of the former Guna MP’s next political move.

“Scindiaji is a dedicated Congressman, he added.

Scindia, who lost election from the Guna Lok Sabha seat, had tried to clear the air last week in Gwalior, saying Gandhi would take a call on the new MPCC chief and her nominee would be acceptable to all.

With 114 MLAs inthe 230-member assembly, the Congress is two short of a simple majority. Itis holding on to power with the support of 1 SP, 2 BSP and 4 Independent MLAs.

The opposition BJP has 108 MLAs.