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Factionalism within Madhya Pradesh may cost Congress dearly


New Delhi, April 15: The factionalism within Madhya Pradesh Congress may cost the party dearly in the Lok Sabha elections despite having the government in the state, say sources.

File photo of Kamal Nath

Madhya Pradesh has 29 Lok Sabha seats and the Congress had won only two seats in 2014 general elections as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) clinched rest of the seats. However, it won Ratlam bye-election in 2015 which was necessitated after BJP MP Dileep Singh Bhuria died on June 24, 2015.

Congress improved its performance in the state when it ousted 15-year-old BJP government in 2018 Assembly elections.

Madhya Pradesh: CM Kamal Nath, his son file poll nominations

Since then the Congress high-command has pinned high hopes on Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath for improving the party's performance in the state in the Lok Sabha elections.

As per the changed strategy, Congress president Rahul Gandhi has given free hand to the party-ruled states' chief ministers to win as many as possible Lok Sabha seats from their respective states.

For the first time, the Congress has permitted its chief ministers to seek votes in their name during the Lok Sabha elections.

According to the sources, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath has promised the party high command to win more than 15 seats out of 29.

The sources, however, say that given the kind of factionalism in the state Congress it doesn't seem a cakewalk.

There are three factions in Madhya Pradesh Congress. Chief Minister Kamal Nath leads one faction and the remaining are led by senior Congress leaders Digvijaya Singh and Jyotiraditya Scindia.

Sources tell OneIndia that Kamal Nath and Scindia joined hands and ensured that Digvijaya should not get Lok Sabha ticket from his home turf Rajgarh, and they have managed to push former Madhya Pradesh chief minister into Bhopal, one of the bastions of the BJP. Bhopal, currently held by BJP's Alok Sanjhar, is a high-profile seat along with Indore and Vidisha that the Congress has not won in the last three decades.

It was Kamal Nath who in March had challenged that if Digvijaya Singh wanted to contest the Lok Sabha polls, he should choose the 'toughest seat' in the state. Without naming any seat, he had said that there were a few seats in the state that the Congress had not won in last '30-35 years'.

Digvijaya Singh wanted to contest from the Rajgarh seat, which he had won in 1984 and 1991. When he resigned from Lok Sabha in 1993 to become Madhya Pradesh chief minister then his brother Lakshman Singh won 1994 bye-election. Lakshman Singh continued to win Rajgarh Lok Sabha seat in 1996, 1998, and 1999 as the Congress candidate.

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"Singh has already been sidelined in the party and realises that pushing him into Bhopal is an effort to end his political career. He is a seasoned political player and has dedicated followers all over the state and would leave no stone unturned to settle the score with both Kamal Nath and Scindia. It seems he has already started playing his moves as political circles are abuzz that he could be behind Income Tax raids against the aides of Kamal Nath," says a source.

Though Kamal Nath and Scindia were together in targeting Digvijaya Singh, but they are not friends either, adds the source.

Scindia is fighting from his stronghold Guna Lok Sabha seat. However, leaders loyal to him have failed to get Congress ticket from two other Lok Sabha seats, which are believed to be under his influence.

Despite Scindia's stiff opposition, Ashok Singh, who is considered close to Digvijaya Singh, has been nominated as Congress candidate from Gwalior Lok Sabha seat.

Sources say that Ashok Singh has got the ticket despite the fact that district Congress had twice proposed the name of Scindia's wife from Gwalior.

Another seat is Bhind where Scindia failed to get the party ticket for his loyalist.

Congress General Secretary Scindia has been made in-charge of Western Uttar Pradesh and will not be devoting time in Madhya Pradesh during Lok Sabha elections.

"During Assembly elections, Kamal Nath and Scindia had worked together as a team because both were eyeing the chair of chief minister. Since Kamal Nath won the chief minister's race, Scindia is unhappy. Now, neither Digvijaya Singh nor Scindia would like to see that Kamal Nath is able to fulfil his promise of winning 15 seats for the party," adds the source.

Elections in the state will be held in four rounds -- on April 29, May 6, 12 and 19.

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