The Congress under Rahul Gandhi on Thursday decided to trust experience over youth. Based on feedback from its legislators and senior state leaders, the party picked 72-year-old Kamal Nath over 47-year-old Jyotiraditya Scindia as its chief minister (CM) in Madhya Pradesh. Nath could take the oath of office on Monday.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi faced a similar conundrum on Rajasthan. While feedback from the state unit favoured 67-year-old Ashok Gehlot, a two-term CM, supporters of 41-year-old Sachin Pilot protested in Jaipur and other places.
At the time of filing of this report, Gandhi was in a meeting with Pilot, party’s central observer for the state K C Venugopal and some others at his residence. Sources said the party leadership was trying to assuage Pilot, who as the state unit chief rebuilt the party after its decimation in 2013 Assembly and 2014 Lok Sabha polls in the state.
The decision on Chhattisgarh CM is also likely on Friday. The two contenders, 66-year-old T S Singh Deo and 57-year-old Bhupesh Baghel, arrived in Delhi on Thursday evening. Earlier in the day, Gandhi met party’s central observer for the state Mallikarjun Kharge and in-charge P L Punia.
On Wednesday, Gandhi sought feedback from party’s 300,000 workers in the state on their choice for the CMs via the party’s ‘Shakti App’. Baghel, who as the state unit chief led the party to a famous win in Chhattisgarh Assembly polls, is popular among workers, but the party would find it difficult to ignore Singh Deo’s claim. Other contenders are 69-year-old Tamradhwaj Sahu and 64-year-old Charan Das Mahant.
According to sources, Nath’s candidature strengthened after he found support from nearly all senior leaders in the state, including Digvijaya Singh, Suresh Pachouri, and Ajay Singh. Nath and Scindia met the Congress president in the evening, who tweeted a photograph of the three of them, with a quote from Leo Tolstoy: “The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.” Through the day, Gandhi held consultations with senior party leaders, including Sonia Gandhi. His sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also visited his house. Gehlot and Pilot appealed to the party workers to maintain peace and discipline, saying they have full faith in the party leadership and would abide by the final decision. In Hyderabad, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) President Kalvakuntla Chandrashekar Rao, who led his party to a massive victory in the December 7 Assembly elections, was sworn-in as the CM of Telangana for a second straight term. Along with Rao, party MLC Mohammad Mahmood Ali, who was deputy CM in the previous TRS government, took oath as a minister.
Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) announced that its national council, the party’s largest organisational body, will meet in Delhi on January 11-12.