Digvijay Singh’s ‘Narmada Parikrama’ came close on the heels of him being divested of charge of Karnataka & Telangana.
Bhopal: A sense of unease seems to be pervading through a powerful section of Congress in Madhya Pradesh with former chief minister Digvijay Singh set to end his six- month-long “sabbatical” from politics on April 9.
The gritty Congress leader has already dropped hints on his return to MP politics after a gap of a decade and half years by saying recently that “I am not going to sell ‘Pakoda’ (the quintessential snack of India) after I completed my ‘Narmada Parikrama’.”.
The subtle remark he had made during his ongoing “Narmada Parikrama”, a detour he had launched on September 30 last year along the bank of river Narmada to attain “spiritual enlightenment”, has ironically followed his announcement to launch “Ekta Yatra” across the state soon after he ended his “religious” journey.
Although his close aides ran a campaign that the “Ekta Yatra” would strive to unite people in the state against the divisive policies of the ruling BJP, a section of Congress leaders have seen a political design in the plan.
“In coming days, the party high command is likely to settle the leadership issue in Congress ahead of Assembly polls in MP, due in November this year.
Mr Singh, who has literally distanced himself from MP politics after the government led by him in the state lost the Assembly elections in 2003 facilitating return of BJP to power in 2003, is trying to stage a comeback in the state politics in a big way keeping an eye on the forthcoming Assembly elections.
The Ekta Yatra, the AICC general secretary was mulling to launch in coming days, may turn out to be a show of strength by him to build pressure on the party high command to restore his hold on MP Congress, a senior party leader told this newspaper on condition of anonymity.
Mr Singh’s “Narmada Parikrama” came close on the heels of him being divested of charges of two crucial states, Karnataka and Telangana after the Goa fiasco in which the party had failed to form the government despite emerging as the single largest party in the last assembly elections in the state. He was in-charge of the party in Goa then.
Mr Singh was successful in roping in senior party leaders such as AICC general secretary and former Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot, veteran leaders Kamal Nath, and Jyotiraditya Scindia to join his “spiritual journey” indicating his “undiminished” clout in the party.
His signal to re-enter state politics has given rise to apprehension in a section of Congress of revival of factional feud in the state party in coming days.
There are primarily three factional leaders in party in MP. They are Mr Singh, and Congress MPs, Mr Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia.
Although, the respective followers of the three leaders want them to be declared as chief ministerial candidate ahead of the year-end Assembly elections, Mr Singh has, however, already announced that he would play the role of mentor to help the party return to power in the state.
Mr Scindia, who was said to the front runner in the race for chief ministerial nominee of Congress, was strongly in favour of the party projecting its face for the forthcoming assembly polls “without any further delay”.
Mr Nath has thrown his weight behind Mr Scindia backing him to lead the party in the upcoming assembly polls.But, Mr Singh was openly against projecting a chief ministerial candidate by the party causing discomfiture in the camps of Mr Scindia and Mr Nath.
Mr Singh has also backed his proteges, MP PCC president Arun Yadav and Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Ajey Singh, indicating his opposition to a party rejig ahead of the coming Assembly elections.
Interestingly, the CLP leader has recently caused ripples in the party by opposing openly some “crucial” announcements by the AICC general secretary in-charge of MP Deepak Babaria, said to be enjoying confidence of Congress president Rahul Gandhi.
Mr Babaria’s particularly the decision to charge party ticket aspirants `50,000 in form of demand draft has been opposed tooth and nail by the CLP leader. “It has been taken note of by the party men. And hence, they are sitting with their fingers crossed to see what role the former chief minister will play after he completed his ‘spiritual journey’,” said a Congress leader.
Old warhorse on a comeback trail