Ajay Singh, son of late Congress veteran Arjun Singh, is the new legislature party leader in Madhya Pradesh.
Ajay, a five-time legislator, faced tough competition from acting CLP leader Rakesh Chaudhary but the party high command ultimately decided in his favour. The post had been lying vacant for six months after the death of 81-year-old Jamuna Devi in September last year.
The brass had deputed party general secretaries BK Hariprasad, who is in charge of Madhya Pradesh, and Mukul Wasnik to Bhopal last month to seek an opinion from legislators. The Congress has 66 MLAs in the house of 231.
But the two leaders were unable to resolve the issue as the legislators were a divided lot. A secret ballot was held and the papers were handed over to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi for announcement. Interestingly, no contender managed to secure more than 20 votes.
The Congress, which was willing to hand over the baton to any leader securing the support of 25 legislators, finally decided in favour of Ajay in a bid to "honour" the political legacy of Arjun. “By appointing Ajay, the party has tried to clear the confusion over the issue of Arjun Singh's political inheritance,” a senior leader said.
There were many claimants to the legacy, who championed the cause of minorities and backward castes. Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh, who is a protégé of Arjun Singh, has sought to don the mantle of his ‘political guru’ with his RSS-BJP bashing and a pro-Muslim image among masses.