|Jyotiraditya Scindia and Digvijaya Singh
Bhopal, Sept. 3: A keen battle of supremacy between Jyotiraditya Scindia and Digvijaya Singh is unfolding in the Madhya Pradesh Congress.
With an eye on November 2013 Assembly polls and the next round of general election, the Congress high command is finalising strategy for the state. Some leaders feel that Scindia may be appointed as working president of MPCC or convener of the Congress campaign committee for 2013 Assembly polls.
But the Digvijaya camp denies such a possibility, pointing at Scindia’s primary interest in staying on in the Manmohan Singh ministry.
For Sonia Gandhi, making a choice between Scindia and Digvijaya will not be easy. A recent confidential report prepared by the party think-tank has dubbed Madhya Pradesh as a “change state”, indicating the possibility of the Congress wresting the state from the ruling BJP.
But on leadership, the report has not favoured any singular leader while underlining the need for unity among the regional satraps.
The factional line-up among the Congress leaders hailing from the state is sharply divided between the Scindia and Digvijaya camps. While Scindia is being backed by current state Congress chief Kantilal Bhuria, Satyavrat Chaturvedi, Arun Yadav and Aslam sher Khan — all leaders of some consequence — Digvijaya supporters claim support from Union minister Kamal Nath, state’s Opposition leader Ajay Singh and other followers of the late Arjun Singh. Another Union minister Suresh Pachauri, who was a known critic of Digvijaya, has reportedly sent feelers to former Madhya Pradesh chief minister in order to checkmate Scindia.
Scindia is counting heavily on his recent success following his emphatic victory over state BJP strongman Kailash Vijayvargiya in Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association elections (MPCA).
The Union minister of state for commerce and industry has started visiting parts of Madhya Pradesh, including, Bhopal frequently. In the past, Scindia used to confine himself to Gwalior, Shivpuri and Guna — where the writ of the erstwhile Gwalior kingdom used to run.
Congress leaders opposed to Scindia’s role in state politics make light of his victory in the MPCA, which had an electoral college of about 250 members, mostly cricket enthusiasts, former cricketers and a section of the elite in Indore, Bhopal and Gwalior.
Unlike Scindia, Digvijaya is not vying for a formal post in the Madhya Pradesh Congress. Eyeing the Indore Lok Sabha seat for 2014 general election, he has been paying frequent visits to the constituency that elected a Congress MP way back in 1984. Since then, the seat has been won by BJP veteran and former Union minister Sumitra Mahajan.
Digvijaya has reportedly been “forced” to zero in on Indore as his traditional seat Rajgarh is currently represented by Narayan Singh Amlabe.
Digvijaya had won from Rajgarh twice in 1984 and 1991 and his brother Laxman in 1994, 1996, 1998 and 1999. In 2004, Laxman switched sides and won the seat for the BJP but in 2009, he lost to Amlabe when Digvijaya extensively campaigned against his younger brother.
A grateful Amlabe was considered a close confidant of Digvijaya. But of late, Amlabe is sounding less than willing to vacate the seat for his former master who, in 2003, had taken a vow not to contest any election after a crushing defeat as chief minister.
Some Congress leaders claim that Scindia has influenced Amlabe so much that the local MP is determined to contest 2014 and beyond.
Moreover, the caste equations in Rajgarh are such that Digvijaya, a former ruler of Raghaogarh (an Assembly segment of the Rajgarh parliamentary seat), cannot afford to antagonise Amlabe. Amlabe’s support is important for Digvijaya’s son Jaivardhan who is set to make his electoral debut in the November 2013 Assembly polls from Raghaogarh.