BHOPAL: A day after Deepak Babaria, the Congress national general secretary in-charge for Madhya Pradesh reportedly promised that Dalit leader Surendra Choudhary could be the deputy CM, if Congress comes to power in the state, the state Congress president Kamal Nath distanced self from Babaria's statement on Friday.
When queried by journalists on Friday about Babaria's statements, Nath said, "I don't know what Deepak Babaria said."
When queried further by journalists over the issue at the MP Congress Committee headquarters in Bhopal, the former union minister and nine-time Lok Sabha member from Chhindwara seat Kamal Nath remained silent.
While Nath clearly distanced himself from Babaria's statement, the MPCC chief's close aide and former Lok Sabha member Sajjan Singh Verma reportedly said, "when Babariaji has already declared the name of deputy CM, he should also announce the name of party's Chief Ministerial candidate in the state."
On Thursday while addressing a program of Buddha Samaj Samuhik Kalyan Samiti at the state Congress headquarters in Bhopal, the party's national general secretary in-charge for MP, Deepak Babaria had reportedly said "in the last assembly polls the Congress had managed to win merely 3 out of the 35 SC category reserved assembly seats in the state. Please help the party win 25 or 30 out of those 35 seats this time and if Congress comes to power Surendra Choudhary might be made the deputy CM."
Choudhary, a Dalit leader from Bundelkhand region of the state is presently one of the four working presidents of the state Congress.
Choudhary, a former MLA from Naryawali seat of Sagar district is a close confidant of ex-CM Digvijaya Singh and had served as a minister in the erstwhile Congress government led by Singh in the state.
Babaria's statement had drawn immediate reaction from ruling BJP on Thursday, with its state spokesperson Dr Hitesh Bajpai saying that Babaria's statement of making a Dalit leader a deputy CM and not the next CM amounted to insult to the SC community.
The SC community forms around 16 percent of the electorate in the state and has a sizeable presence on around 60 out of the total 230 assembly seats.
The faction-ridden Congress which has been out of power in MP since 2003 is working hard to regain power in the state where assembly polls are slated towards end of 2018.
Party insiders feel that with MP largely being an OBC dominated state, Babaria's statement could not go down well with the OBC segment, which has given all three BJP chief ministers in the state since 2003, including Uma Bharti, Babulal Gaur and Shivraj Singh Chouhan.