Why Digvijaya Singh is upset with Rahul Gandhi
The growing clamour in the Congress to project Power Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia as the party’s chief ministerial candidate in the year-end assembly election in Madhya Pradesh has upset high-profile All India Congress Committee general secretary Digvijaya Singh, reports Anita Katyal.
Former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijaya Singh is learnt to have dashed off a letter to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi saying he does not wish to be involved in the selection of candidates in the upcoming assembly polls in the state. He has said that he will not be recommending any candidates but if his opinion is sought by the leadership, he would always be available to give his inputs.
In a clear indication that he is unhappy with the turn of events in his home state, Digvijaya Singh is learnt to have pointed out sarcastically that he is in no position to give any suggestions since he has been out of state politics for the past decade.
Singh had publicly declared that he would stay away from electoral politics for ten years when he lost the chief minister’s gaddi to Bharatiya Janata Party’s Uma Bharati in 2003.
Singh has since been preoccupied with his responsibilities as AICC general secretary but it has not stopped him from dabbling in state politics. In fact, the state party unit remains mired in factional battles and Digvijaya Singh’s latest missive to Rahul Gandhi only indicates that his efforts to bring together the various groups together have not met with success.
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'Guru Digvijaya's relations with Rahul getting strained'
Digvijaya Singh is also said to be upset at Rahul Gandhi’s statement at a recent party meeting that the Congress was suffering in Madhya Pradesh because of the infighting among state leaders.
More importantly, this letter is also a signal that Singh does not enjoy the same level of proximity with Rahul Gandhi these days. The AICC general secretary was often referred to as Rahul’s guru when Singh was looking after Uttar Pradesh affairs.
Rahul Gandhi had full faith in the strategy devised by Singh for the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls which eventually backfired. That Digvijaya Singh does not enjoy the same comfort level with the Congress vice-president was evident when he was divested of the charge of Uttar Pradesh in the last party reshuffle.
However, the party leadership will have to move fast to placate the senior leader as an unhappy Digvijaya Singh can inflict further damage in the faction-ridden Madhya Pradesh party unit. Although he has been out of electoral politics, the former chief minister continues to enjoy substantial support in the party rank and file. This is evident from the throngs of workers who swarm his New Delhi residence at Lodi Estate every day.
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'MP Congress a divided house'
Digvijaya Singh is no push over and this was proved when he was instrumental in the appointment of Kantilal Bhuria as the Madhya Pradesh Congress president. The state has three major groups, each headed by heavyweights: Digvijaya Singh, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath and Power Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia.
While Singh patronises Bhuria and leader of opposition Ajay Singh, son of late Arjun Singh, the other two also have their pockets of support. As the assembly elections draw close, their battle can only be expected to hot up as each leader wants a lion’s share of tickets for his group of supporters so that he can dictate terms after the polls.
The bitter infighting among them surfaces on every possible occasion, including during meetings conducted by Rahul Gandhi. During one such meeting, Bhuria had hit out openly at the Union ministers Kamal Nath and Scindia for keeping him in the dark about their programmes in the state.
This was countered by a Scindia supporter who said the state president had appointed delegates to the party’s Gwalior district committee without consulting the minister even though Gwalior is his Lok Sabha constituency. Bhuria’s detractors in the party have blamed him for his inability to mount a concerted and effective campaign against the Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s government.
With no let-up in their war, one could say that the squabbling Congress leaders are all set to hand over another victory to BJP’s Chouhan in the coming assembly poll.
Image: Union minister and MP Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia