A recent cabinet meeting of the Madhya Pradesh government saw a heated exchange Chief Minister Kamal Nath and staunch supporters of Jyotiraditya Scindia.
Food minister Pradyumn Singh Tomar, a staunch Scindia loyalist, blew the cover over the simmering factional tension when he vociferously complained in the state cabinet meeting on Wednesday that the chief minister was neglecting certain ministers’ genuine concerns.
Sukhdeo Pande, an acolyte of Kamal Nath in the cabinet, tried to pacify an angry Tomar but in vain. Even as Kamal Nath silently watched Tomar's outburst, other ministers got into a verbal duel. As Tomar walked out of the cabinet, the chief minister cryptically remarked: “I know on whose prompting you are saying all this.”
Significantly, Jyotiraditya Scindia was said to have been watching the war of words on a mobile phone that one of the ministers had switched on for the benefit of his leader.
The meeting ended on a bitter note, with four Scindia supporters walking off.
On the same evening, they met over dinner at transport minister Govind Rajput’s bungalow. Next day, Rajput told media men that if some ministers want to air their grievances, the chief minister should listen to them. He denied that Scindia supporters are lobbying for replacing Kamal Nath as either chief minister or PCC chief.
Nath currently holds both the posts.
Following the tumultuous cabinet meeting, Kamal Nath loyalists have also upped the ante, calling for the removal of the rebel ministers, particularly Tomar, from the cabinet.
“How can the government-run when a minister indulges in hot talk with the chief minister? This is not done,” remarked a legislator from Kamal Nath's camp.
Cracks between the two factions were visible right from day one, when the Congress high command chose Kamal Nath over Scindia for chief minister’s post, after the party’s victory in the Assembly election in November last year.
The chasm deepened when Scindia pushed for more names to be included in the cabinet than the chief minister was willing to accommodate.
However, in the run-up to the Lok Sabha election, both sides observed a truce. A crushing defeat for the Congress in the polls, however, caused the factional squabbles to resurface. Scindia followers are now openly demanding that their leader be nominated state Congress president.
So far, neither Scindia nor Nath has spoken about the disagreements between the two camps. The third-most powerful leader in the state, Digvijaya Singh, is also maintaining a studied silence over the state of affairs in the cabinet.