Next stop BJP? Sulking Scindia gives MP govt the shakes

Next stop BJP? Sulking Scindia gives MP govt the shakes

Scindia was a front-runner for the chief minister's post after the Congress registered a close win over the BJP in the state polls last December.

The eight-month-old Kamal Nath government appears to be staring at an existential crisis as Madhya Pradesh is agog with rumours about senior Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia likely to join the BJP, if not made the state Congress president.

An angry Scindia needs only a dozen-odd MLAs to do a Karnataka on the Madhya Pradesh’s Congress government.

The Congress has 115 MLAs against the BJP’s 109 in the 230-strong Assembly.   

 Chief Minister Kamal Nath on Friday called on Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi amid speculations that Madhya Pradesh might be next after Karnataka to slip out of the Congress hands owing to the reported threat of revolt by Scindia.

They discussed probable names for the state Congress chief. However, the suspense continues as to who will be the next PCC chief and when will the name be announced.

After the meeting, Kamal Nath told reporters that he was confident that Scindia would remain in the party.

"I don’t think he (Scindia ) is angry. He is with the party”, the chief minister said.            

Significantly, Scindia has so far not scotched the swirling rumours about his plan to defect, even as his supporters in Gwalior-Chambal region have mounted pressure on the Congress high command by threatening to resign from party posts and warning demonstrations at 10 Janpath in New Delhi if their leader is denied the PCC chief's post.

On Friday, Datia district Congress president Ashok Dangi warned that he would resign along with supporters if Scindia is not made the PCC chief.

Two days ago, Morena district chief Rakesh Mavai had also held out a similar threat to the Congress high command.

In a letter to Sonia, Dangi said: "Scindiaji played the most important role in getting the Congress back to power in Madhya Pradesh, but he is being conspiratorially kept out of the state."    

“Some state Congress leaders are finding it hard to digest Scindia’s popularity and conspiring to keep his out of Madhya Pradesh," Dangi wrote in the letter.  

Scindia’s supporters have been openly pitching for him in the state.

“It is understandable that leaders in Maharashtra want a young, dedicated and popular leader like Maharaj (Scindia), but we won’t be satisfied unless he is handed the key responsibility in Madhya Pradesh,” said Imarti Devi, a minister and a staunch Scindia loyalist.

There are reports that Scindia is miffed by the party leadership for keeping him away from Madhya Pradesh and has indicated that he would have to “look for options”.  

He is reported to be in touch with leaders in the BJP, the party which was pleasantly surprised by Scindia’s open support to the Modi government on scrapping Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir.  

Scindia was a front-runner for the chief minister's post after the Congress registered a close win over the BJP in the state polls last December.

However, the party leadership chose a more experienced Kamal Nath for the top post.

Kamal Nath continued as PCC chief and relinquished the post after the Congress’s crushing debacle in the Lok Sabha election.

His son was the lone Congress winner in MP while the other 28 seats went into the BJP's kitty. Scindia too lost the election from his Guna pocket burrow.

In an apparent attempt to placate Scindia, the Congress appointed him as the chairman of the screening committee for the upcoming Assembly elections in Maharashtra, but he is said to be adamant for the PCC president chair. 

Scindia had resigned as the party's national general secretary in July.