After marathon meetings, decision on Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh likely today
Forty-eight hours after the Congress made a political comeback in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, veteran leader Kamal Nath seems set to take over reins in Bhopal as the next Chief Minister. The formal announcement is expected late on Thursday following a meeting of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) of the newly elected MLAs in Bhopal. Earlier in the day, posting a photo of himself with Madhya Pradesh Congress chief Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia, Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted, “The two most powerful warriors are patience and time. – Leo Tolstoy.”
In favour of experience
Sources claimed that on Wednesday, when the Congress heard the views of the newly elected MLAs for the first time, a majority of them preferred the nine-time Chindwara MP over Mr. Scindia due to his experience. The choice in Rajasthan proved to be a lot tougher as supporters of Congress Rajasthan chief Sachin Pilot and former Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot were locked in an intense and public battle, forcing both leaders to appeal for calm on social media. While Mr. Pilot is credited with reviving the party after its rout in 2013 Assembly polls, Congress seniors leaned on Mr. Gehlot as they considered him better placed to run the government since the party’s official tally is just around the halfway mark in the 200-member Assembly.
With the Congress’ internal divide of the old guard versus young turks playing out over the party’s choice of the next chief minister, Mr. Gandhi was forced to convene a meeting of the top contenders for a second time late on Thursday evening. Earlier in the day, the Congress chief held separate meetings with Mr. Gehlot and Mr.Pilot. At the time of going to press, Mr. Gandhi was meeting leaders from Chhattisgarh and was slated to meet Rajasthan leaders again. In Chhattisgarh, where the Congress swept the polls, it was a three-cornered contest between State Congress chief Bhupesh Baghel, the former Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly T.S. Singh Deo and the party’s OBC wing chief Tamradhwaj Sahu. Sources said the chief minister would be decided after the central observer Mallikarjun Kharge briefed Mr. Gandhi on the party MLAs’s views.