The outcome of the Madhya Pradesh Assembly election has turned out to be a political junkie's ultimate fantasy.
The outcome of the Madhya Pradesh Assembly election has turned out to be a political junkie’s ultimate fantasy. Eleven hours and counting, there is still no clarity on who among the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress will manage to get past the magic figure of 115. As per the latest trends, Congress appears to have a slight edge though it is struggling to get a clear majority. The next big question for the Congress will be the choice of the Chief Minister.
Its state unit chief Kamal Nath and campaign committee chief Jyotiraditya Scindia have emerged as the top contenders for the job. The notion that either of the two will be the chief minister had led to factionalism in MP Congress. Neither of the two leaders contested the assembly elections in the state but both remained the face of the election campaign.
In the battle between Jyotiraditya Scindia and Kamal Nath, here’s a look at their advantages and shortcomings that could tilt the party’s favour for or against them.
– Mass Appeal
Jyotiraditya Scindia, 44, is the titular Maharaja of erstwhile Gwalior State. He is the son of Madhav Rao Scindia, the last titular Maharaja of Gwalior and grandson of Jivajirao Scindia, the last ruling king of the Gwalior state before India’s independence. His father was a senior Congress leader who served as a minister in the Union government multiple times. His aunts, Vasundhara Raje Scindia and Jashodhara Raje Scindia are prominent members of the Bharatiya Janata Party. The two sisters had joined BJP following their mother’s wish, while Madhav Rao rebelled against his mother and joined the Congress. Following his father, Jyotiraditya too joined his father and came to the grand old party.
The Scindia family has ruled Gwalior and hence hold a significant clout in the region. Scindia is a four-time MP from Guna and is a popular face in Madhya Pradesh. The leader has also served as union minister in the earstwhile Manmohan Singh government. The mass appeal he enjoys among the voters is likely to go in his favour.
In most of the pre-election surveys, the voters had chosen Scindia as their preferred choice for the chief minister’s post.
– Age factor
Scindia is young and brings with him a proven track record of his leadership skills. The Congress leader had set the prelude to his candidature for the top post when he had run an aggressive campaign for the bypolls in Mungaoli and Kolaras constituencies. Besides, Scindia has also been elected to Lok Sabha for four consecutive terms and even survived the 2014 Modi wave. The Congress may find a young leader in Scindia who can have a better hold of the state affairs for the party in the longer run.
Kamal Nath brings with him the political experience of over 40 years. The Congress leader was first elected as an MP back in 1980, and since then there has been no looking back. Criticised for being a ‘darabari’ (one who is close to the king) by PM Narendra Modi, Kamal Nath is known to have close ties with the Gandhi family. The senior Congress leader has had his first ministerial stint back in 1992 in PV Narasimha Rao led Central government. He has held various portfolios in the central government, and is seen as one of the most successful parliamentarians ever. Nath holds the record of being the longest serving MP.
Close ties with Gandhi family
Kamal Nath is said to have a stronghold inside the organisation and greater acceptability among the top leaders as compared to Scindia. In 2002, he was appointed as the general secretary of the Congress party. This was when Sonia Gandhi was still emerging as a leader and was faced with the challenge to defeat Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led BJP in the Lok Sabha polls scheduled for next year. He is also considered a favourite of Digvijaya Singh, a close confidante of Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and two-time chief minister of Madhya Pradesh. Insiders say that it was Singh who pushed Nath’s bid for the state chief’s post earlier this year and even strategised his candidature for CM post. Conventionally, Nath was considered as Delhi politician who spent most of his life in the national capital. The BJP, and even some of the Congress leaders in the state allege Nath of being a parachuted CM candidate.