After daylong parleys, Kamal Nath named MP CM
Decision on Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh put off till Friday

After a day of moving back and forth on the selection of chief ministers for the three states where it had won the recent assembly polls, the Congress party named Kamal Nath as chief minister for Madhya Pradesh late on Thursday night.

The Congress party which made the announcement said, “An era of change is upon Madhya Pradesh with Kamal Nath at helm.”

The development came as the race for chief ministership intensified, and Kamal Nath, who is also the president of the Madhya Pradesh unit of the Congress, met Congress president Rahul Gandhi at his residence where UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi was also present.

The meeting took place after Scindia met Gandhi. During the meeting, Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra were also present at Rahul Gandhi's Tughlaq Lane residence. The Congress chief had met the central party observers for Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh – KC Venugopal and AK Antony – amid a flurry of parleys for selecting the chief ministers.

It took a long while to arrive at the decision on the Madhya Pradesh chief minister. After day long deliberations to decide who will be the chief minister in the three states won by the party, Rahul Gandhi dropped the first hint for Madhya Pradesh by tweeting his photograph with a beaming Jyotiraditya Scindia and Kamal Nath along with a Leo Tolstoy quote: “The two most powerful warriors are patience and time”. It was ambiguous but appeared to hold the answer to who would be chief minister. In fact, he had said that he would announce the name of chief ministers after consulting the newly-elected MLAs. His tweet was seen as confirmation that the Congress might go with experienced Kamal Nath and Scindia will have to wait.

The party faces a similar dilemma in Rajasthan where young turk Sachin Pilot has refused to leave the turf in favour of veteran Ashok Gehlot leading to an intense jostle for the top job in Jaipur.

Sachin Pilot’s supporters created a ruckus in Rajasthan blocking roads demanding that he should be made the chief minister. Pilot appealed for peace and claimed he remains a loyal Congress leader expressing his full faith in the choice made by Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi.

Rahul Gandhi’s residence on Tughlaq Lane was the nerve center of activities as got feedback from state leader before pronouncing the decision. Sonia Gandhi and Rahul’s sister Priyanka Gandhi also drove down to Rahul Gandhi’s house to assist him in taking the decision.

He met Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot separately amidst reports that the party high command was in favour of the seasoned former chief minister for the job. He also met observers sent to Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. The decision on Pilot or Gehlot is expected to be announced in Jaipur.

After holding discussions with Rajasthan leaders, Rahul Gandhi went into a huddle on Madhya Pradesh where  the choice is between seasoned Kamal Nath and young Jyotiraditya Scindia. Like in Rajasthan, Kamal Nath is said to be the frontrunner. But one of the longest serving MPs of the Congress, Kamal Nath faces allegations of being involved in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. A larger number of newly elected MLAs, however, have preferred him to be the chief minister.

The choice is equally comlex in Chhattisgarh, the third state won by the Congress where the number of contenders are more with Bhupesh Bhagel, Tamradhwaj Sahu and TS Singh Deo. Bhagel is the Congress party’s state unit chief while Sahu is Congress MP and TS Singh Deo is leader of opposition.

When asked about who will be the chief minister, Sonia Gandhi told reporters to ask Rahul. Despite deliberations, the young guns have held their position and refused to budge. They have rejected the compromise formulae. Scindia was reportedly offered the post of deputy chief minister but has turned it down.

Gautam Datt