MP Congress leaders blame Kamal Nath for party’s loss in assembly polls - Hindustan Times

MP Congress leaders blame Kamal Nath for party’s loss in assembly polls

Dec 03, 2023 07:27 PM IST

Congress leaders in Madhya Pradesh blamed the party high-command for the loss in the assembly elections saying that it was totally dependent on Kamal Nath for victory

Congress leaders in Madhya Pradesh have blamed the party’s state president, Kamal Nath, for its loss in the assembly elections citing his overconfidence, lackadaisical campaign, poor candidate selection, infighting and centralisation of power.

Madhya Pradesh Congress president Kamal Nath. (PTI)
Madhya Pradesh Congress president Kamal Nath. (PTI)

The BJP has emerged as a winner bagging 165 of the 230 assembly seats with the Congress getting only 63. This is the BJP’s second best performance since 2003 when it won 165 seats to dislodge Digvijaya Singh-led Congress government. In 2013, the BJP had won 175 seats.

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At least three Congress leaders said that Nath’s ostensible strategy failed against an aggressive ground campaign by the BJP.

“We made 120 promises but even our workers were not aware about it. It was left to the social media team to publicise our manifesto. We failed to get our campaign to people,” a senior Congress leader said. The leader blamed the party high-command for the loss saying it was totally dependent on Nath for victory.

The ruling BJP exploited this vacuum on ground with the Congress having no workers to counter its narrative, the second Congress leader said. “We had no campaign on ground. Our workers were not visible. Only BJP workers could be seen on ground,” he claimed.

The third Congress leaders said, “Kamal Nath’s election strategy was beyond our comprehension. The party had enough time to replicate the Karnataka model of election campaign in the state. It did take an initiative in this regard by talking of 50% corruption in the government in Madhya Pradesh but then utterly failed in setting a narrative around the same. Same was the result on price rise, unemployment and exam scams in the state.”

The third leader said that Nath was so “overconfident” of his victory that he made it sure that the Congress didn’t go for the Indian National Development Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) to contest against the BJP, whereas alliance partners Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or the CPI(M) in particular were in favour of the alliance partners contesting the elections together to get Uttar Pradesh’s Ghosi bypoll like results.

“The SP was asking for four seats and the CPI(M) two. But Kamal Nath was not willing to give them these seats saying the Congress does not need them,” he said.

The second leader said, “We often heard in the party meetings that Kamal Nath didn’t leave the state to restrengthen the organisation but, in effect, we hardly saw a cohesive party campaign in the state with involvement of party heavyweights in it. Every leader seemed to be confined in his own region. The party was missing in the campaign on the ground.”

The second leader quoted above said that Nath didn’t allow the state Congress in-charge to play any role in the party’s functioning as a result there were four party in-charges in the state in the past five years. The latest, Randeep Surjawale, was appointed just two months before the polls. “He was at loss and did not interfere in Nath’s decisions,” the leader said. Surjewala replaced Jai Prakash Agarwal, who was assertive and was trying to get involved in running the party in the state, he said. The other two were Deepak Babaria and Mukul Wasnik.

The third leader highlighting the infighting said that senior leaders such as Suresh Pachauri, Arun Yadav and Ajay Singh got a place in the party’s screening committee for selecting candidates only after objections were raised before the party high command.

“It was very embarrassing for the party when Nath and Digvijaya Singh indulged in a bitter war of words in presence of media and party workers and talked of tearing clothes of each other on the very occasion of the party manifesto being released,” he said.

The third leader said, “Nath wanted a free hand in candidates’ selection and the party became a laughingstock in public when he announced that his son and member of Parliament Nakul Nath would announce Chhindwara district candidates’ names from Chhindwara. The party also faced embarrassment when names of some announced candidates were changed during nomination period, whereas the BJP did not change even one candidate.

Admitting the defeat, Nath said, “I accept the mandate of the people of Madhya Pradesh. We have been given the responsibility to sit in the opposition and we will discharge our duties and responsibility well. The biggest question facing Madhya Pradesh right now is that the future of the youth of Madhya Pradesh should be secure and our farmers should get prosperity.”

“I congratulate the Bharatiya Janata Party. I hope that it will try to live up to the trust that the public has reposed in it”, he added, talking to media persons on Sunday evening.

He said, “I always said that I have faith in the voters of Madhya Pradesh and even today I will say that I have faith in the voters of Madhya Pradesh.”

On the reasons behind the massive defeat of the Congress, he said he would review it with all the defeated and winning candidates of the party to see what the reason was and why they could not convince the voters of Madhya Pradesh about the party’s policies.

Political analyst Dinesh Gupta said, “The biggest flaw on Kamal Nath’s part was he didn’t have a ‘ground connect’. He was inaccessible to the party workers and its result was he didn’t get feedback from them regarding the challenges the party faced and weaknesses of the ruling party at the ground level. This was despite the fact that it’s his style of functioning that led to rebellion in the party and the Congress losing power in the state in March 2020.”

He said, “It’s Kamal Nath who was seen in a video asking the party leaders to tear clothes of Digvijaya Singh and his son Jaivardhan Singh on candidate selection issue. This triggered off a further infighting in the party. In the past three years, he failed to build any public agitation on several important issues including scams, price rise.”

State Congress spokesperson JP Dhanopia said, “Kamal Nath ji led the party from the front and he fought well against the BJP’s misuse of government machinery and all its malpractices. That’s why there was no dispute in Congress over leadership issues unlike the BJP which avoided projecting Shivraj Singh Chouhan as its CM face.”

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    Ranjan Srivastava leads HT’s coverage from Bhopal. He has spent more than two decades in journalism in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, covering political and other affairs. For the past 16 years, he has been working in Madhya Pradesh.

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