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Digvijaya trying to destabilise Congress govt in MP: Minister

Press Trust of India  |  Bhopal 

A Madhya Pradesh minister has claimed senior Congress veteran Digvijaya Singh is trying to "destabilise" the Kamal Nath government, indicating factional feud in the state where the party came to power just nine months ago after 15 years in opposition.

Forest Minister Umang Singhar wrote a letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Sunday in this connection.

The explosive letter, which indicates fissures in the Madhya Pradesh Congress, comes in the backdrop of names being propped up for the post of the state unit president, currently held by Kamal Nath, who took over as Chief Minister in December 2018.

However, some other ministers came forward to downplay the issue and affirm that Singh was a senior leader much liked by everyone associated with the party.

Singh recently wrote to state ministers, urging them to give him appointment so that he can know what action has been taken on his recommendations for transfers and other works.

Singhar took strong exception to Singh's letter and without taking his name, said the former chief minister is running the Nath-led government from "behind the curtain".

The tribal MLA from Gandhwani, talking to reporters here, said "When he is running the government from behind the curtain, which is known to everyone, including Congress workers, then what was the need to write a letter (to ministers)".

In his letter to Gandhi, Singhar said, "I am writing to you with a lot of pain to inform you that senior party leader and MP (Singh) is trying to destabilise the Kamal Nath government and trying to establish himself as a power centre."

Singh has been continuously writing letters to the chief minister and his cabinet colleagues and also circulating them on social media, Singhar claimed.

"He (Singh) had also written letters to Nath regarding Vyapam, e-tendering and tree plantation scams, but had not written about Simhast (Kumbh Mela held in Ujjain in 2016) scam as his son Jaivardhan Singh is now heading the urban administration and development ministry.

"The Congress had made it (Simhast scam) a big issue while it was in the opposition," Singhar said.

"Such letters give credence to the opposition, including former chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Leader of Opposition Gopal Bhargava, that Digvijaya is running the government from behind the curtains," he added.

When contacted by PTI, Singhar confirmed he wrote the letter to Gandhi, and asked "what is wrong with it".

Singh was unavailable for comments in the matter, but Public Relations Minister P C Sharma came out in support of the 72-year-old Congress veteran.

Defending Singh, Sharma said there is nothing wrong in the senior leader writing letters to Nath or ministers as he is a former chief minister and currently a Rajya Sabha MP.

People come to him with their problems and he highlights them by writing letters to ministers, he said.

"He did the 'Narmada Parikrama' (circumambulation of the Narmada river in 2017-18) and a large number of people contact him with their problems. There is nothing wrong in writing letters," said Sharma, considered a loyalist of Singh.

Sharma also refuted reports that Singh was running the government from behind the curtain.

"It is Chief Minister Kamal Nath who is running the government and all senior leaders and ministers are supporting him," he asserted.

Meanwhile, Public Works Minister Sajjan Singh Verma called Singh a "tall Congress leader" and said he should be giving directions to ministers on phone rather than writing letters to them.

Verma also hit out at senior BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya for suggesting that Singh would soon be made Madhya Pradesh Congress president.

"Writing letters is the opposition's work. Digvijaya is our senior leader. He should directly instruct us. All MP ministers respect him immensely," Verma, considered a Nath loyalist, told reporters here.

Verma dismissed BJP accusations that Singh was mounting unnecessary pressure on state ministers.

"Writing letters is Digvijayaji's style of functioning. Ministers have no objection it.

"Digvijayaji was chief minister for 10 years. Possibly he wants to complete unfinished work from his tenure during that of CM Kamal Nath," Verma claimed.

He termed Vijayvargiya's utterances on the matter as "foolish" and said the post of MP Congress chief was "too small" for Singh, who has been MLA and MP multiple times.

Singh, incidentally, has been MP Congress chief twice in the past.

The letter war gripping various factions of the state Congress and ministers talking in different voices prompted senior BJP leader Shivraj Chouhan to call the situation in MP "unusual"

"An unusual situation is prevailing in Madhya Pradesh with a minister alleging that someone else (Digvijaya) is running the government.

"How and why such a thing happened? He is not a constitutional authority and has no right to scold ministers like this," the former BJP chief minister said.

"About which work he was referring to, whose work, are these in the interest of the public? Moreover, a minister is saying someone is running the government from behind (the curtain)," Chouhan told reporters.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, September 02 2019. 19:10 IST