NEW DELHI: Forty-eight hours after wresting power from the Bharatiya Janata Party in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, the intense power struggle in the Congress before the selection of the chief minister in these States revealed the party’s old characteristics of infighting and factionalism.
Although party president Rahul Gandhi told reporters that “we are taking inputs from various people, from MLAs and workers. We are trying to get a comprehensive answer to what the party wants”, the truth is that a power struggle is holding up a decision.
In Rajasthan, such is the tussle between state party chief Sachin Pilot and senior leader Ashok Gehlot that some Pilot supporters even held a protest in front of Gandhi’s residence in New Delhi and blocked the national highway in the State, demanding that Pilot be made the CM.
The scene in Bhopal and Raipur, the capital cities of MP and Chhattisgarh, respectively, is somewhat similar. Rival camps of contenders Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia and T S Singh Deo and Bhupesh Baghel clashed. The clashes in Raipur came a day after Baghel claimed that Congress rebel Ajit Jogi, who had floated his own outfit, did not affect the party’s prospects as many had feared he would.
Besides the clashes by supporters, none of the hopefuls is showing signs of backing off, making the high command’s job difficult. Though all the contenders publically kept saying they would abide by the party high command’s decision, none of the feuding leaders was ready to back off, making it difficult for Rahul to take a final call.
Pilot is credited to have revived the party in Rajasthan after the electoral washout in 2013. In MP, Scindia’s role was instrumental in the Congress victory in Gwalior-Chambal and Malwa-Nimar regions.
On the other hand, veterans Gehlot and Nath are known for their political and crisis management skills, which could come handy since the party has a wafer thin margin in both the heartland states.
Grand old habits die hard
In 1980, A R Antulay was made Maharashtra CM, but Vasantdada Patil also laid his claim to the top post
In 2003, Maharashtra CM Vilasrao Deshmukh had to make way for Sushil Kumar Shinde
In 2004, Bhupinder Singh Hooda pipped veteran Bhajan Lal to become Haryana CM
In 2012, Vijay Bahuguna was made Uttarakhand CM, though Harish Rawat was a claimant