The Kamal BJP is not comfortable with

The appointment of Kamal Nath as MP Congress chief has turned a jittery BJP extremely nervous

Picture courtesy: Social media
Picture courtesy: Social media

LS Herdenia

While the appointment of Kamal Nath as chief of Madhya Pradesh Congress has been welcomed by the party, it has caused panic in the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP). The BJP now feels that the challenge from the Congress is a very serious one. And how to face this challenge is now the greatest headache for the party. Perhaps keeping this in mind, BJP president Amit Shah is reaching Bhopal on May 4. The BJP has realised that it is for the first time in a long time that the Congress has appointed such a person as the MP Congress chief who not only has vast experience of fighting elections but is also acceptable to leaders of various factions and common party workers.

Kamal Nath migrated from West Bengal and contested the Lok Sabha elections from Chhindwara in 1980. Chhindwara incidentally was the only Lok Sabha seat in MP which the Congress won in 1977. From 1980 onwards, barring once, Kamal Nath has never tasted defeat. As a Central Minister, he has always maintained cordial rapport with all the important leaders of the Congress. A local newspaper, reporting Kamal Nath’s appointment, ran the following headline: Now it will be Kamal (Kamal Nath) versus Kamal (BJP’s election symbol).

Congress president Rahul Gandhi has taken care of various sections of the party and the society by constituting a broad-based team. It takes care of various communities and regions. Jyotiraditya Scindia represents the Gwalior region. Bala Bacchan, a tribal leader and Deputy Leader of the Congress legislature party, comes from the Nimar region. Surendra Choudhary, a Scheduled Caste leader, comes from Bundelkhand; Ram Niwas Rawat hails from the Chambal region; Jitu Patwari, a very active Congress leader, comes from the Malwa region. Kamal Nath will represent Mahakoshal. Bala Bachhan, Jitu Patwari, Ram Niwas Rawat and Surendra Choudhary have been appointed as working presidents while Scindia will head the campaign committee. However, there is a general feeling that Muslims and women should have been given more representation in the new dispensation.

Madhya Pradesh has a very large population of people from Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes. Tribals constitute 22 per cent and Dalits 18 per cent of the state’s population. The Congress will have to demonstrate that it is capable of taking care of their all-round welfare. The BJP government, during its 14 years of rule, virtually did nothing for their empowerment. This view is supported by an important Dalit BJP leader, Indresh Gajbhiye, former chairman of the State Scheduled Caste Finance and Development Corporation. Gajbhiye claims that crime against Dalits in the state has increased by 16 per cent over the last 14 years of BJP rule. He says that the anti-incumbency factor has assumed serious proportions. He feels that in order to ensure that the BJP gets a fourth term in the November Vidhan Sabha elections, the party must declare a Dalit as a chief ministerial candidate. Perhaps, it is for the first time that a major state BJP leader has publicly stated that Shiv Raj Singh Chouhan should not be projected as the next Chief Minister.

The Congress should chalk out a strategy to win the heart of the 40 per cent tribal and Dalit voters. Kamal Nath, while interacting with the media, said “We must look at the present circumstances. Never in history have all sections of society been distressed. Farmers are bleeding, the youth are unemployed, traders and labourers are unhappy, women don’t feel safe. MP leads the country in farmers’ suicides and atrocities on women. The politics of stunts stands badly exposed.”

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