New Delhi: After two days of uncertainty, tensions and political manoeuvring, the Congress on Thursday named Kamal Nath as the next Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh. He was picked over Jyotiraditya Scindia to form the next government in the state.
The formal announcement was made by AK Antony - appointed previously as an observer by Congress - at a late-night press conference. "Rahul Gandhi has selected Shri Kamal Nath to be the CM," he said.
Kamal Nath too took the opportunity to thank voters of the state. "The people of Madhya Pradesh have put their faith in us and I thank them for it. The state will always be secure, it is a new beginning for MP. This post is a milestone," he said at the same press conference which also had Scindia. "I thank Jyotiraditya for his support. I have worked closely with his father and it makes me happy I have his support. I have no desire for posts, had no demand. I have always supported Congress without the desire for any posts."
Congress managed to upstage the three-time government of BJP under Shivraj Singh Chouhan in the state but supporters of Kamal Nath and Scindia soon took over the party office in Bhopal demanding that their respective leader should be made the CM. Ground tensions remained high over Wednesday and for most parts of Thursday with both Kamal Nath and Scindia reaching Congress president Rahul Gandhi's residence in New Delhi. An intense meeting ensued for most parts of the day although Congress leaders maintained there was no cause for concern. The decision to pick a CM for the state had been left to national party president Rahul Gandhi who eventually picked the experience of Kamal Nath.
As the Congress chief in Madhya Pradesh, Kamal Nath spearheaded the party's campaign in the state along with party's campaign committee head Scindia. When Kamal Nath was named the Congress chief in Madhya Pradesh in April 2018 ahead of the Assembly polls, many in the party recalled how former prime minister Indira Gandhi described him as her "third son" who helped her take on the Morarji Desai-led regime in 1979.
The senior-most member in the 16th Lok Sabha, Kamal Nath was given the task in April to revive the fortunes of the opposition Congress in Madhya Pradesh, where the party had been out of power since 2003.
When Kamal Nath was chosen by Congress chief Rahul as the state chief, the MP Congress unit was riddled with factionalism. Kamal Nath made efforts to bring together senior party leaders - former MP chief minister Digvijaya Singh, Scindia and Suresh Pachouri - well aware that groupism may have had a role in keeping the party out of power for the last 15 years. He ensured that regional satraps got representation in the allotment of tickets.
The Congress had submitted a letter of support from 121 MLAs, including the seven legislators the party roped in from BSP (2), SP (1) and Independent candidates (7), apart from the 114 victorious Congress candidates, to Governor Anandiben Patel, staking claim to form the government.