Senior Congress leader and the former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Kamal Nath’s home office in Bhopal’s Shymala Hills is abuzz with a stream of visitors. The bell inside rings constantly, informing his office staff he is ready to meet the next batch of people. The former Chief Minister is meeting everybody, from constituents to youth-wing members to ticket seekers to party functionaries and also supporters of disappointed ticket aspirants. What is drawing people to this posh enclave is the whiff of a possible victory and that he is the Congress’s undisputed chief ministerial face in the assembly elections. Visitors have to leave their phones in a tray in the waiting room. He clearly feels he can do without unnecessary controversies in the crucial election.
At 76, he is leading his party’s campaign from the front. Time is of the essence for Kamal Nath, who will soon be travelling out of Bhopal. In the midst of a hectic schedule, exuding confidence that the people of Madhya Pradesh will avenge the toppling of his government in 2020, Nath met with this reporter, among a few others, recently.
Kamal Nath says the people are fed up with the 18-year-old rule of the BJP and realize that this election is about the future of Madhya Pradesh. He also seeks to downplay the visit of controversial religious leader Baba Bageshwar to Chhindwara district, his stronghold, insisting he was just being a good host.
Amid the buzz about tensions between him and party veteran Digvijaya Singh, he insists they are old friends.
A group of journalist asked him if he going to be the chief minister again, to which Kamal Nath said, “You should ask the people of Madhya Pradesh, not me. The people of Madhya Pradesh will decide the chief minister. And I have full confidence and faith in the people because this is not an election of merely a candidate or merely a party. This election, which the people are realizing, is about the future of Madhya Pradesh.”
Another journalist asked if this election also about avenging that happened in 2020, saying that the Congress government was toppled, and asked if it was a personal battle for senior Congressman.
Nath said: “The people will avenge it. They know what kind of deals were made when the government was toppled. And the people understand the politics behind this. So (they will) avenge this and what has happened (over the years), how there has been a complete misrule over last 18 years.”
When a reporter asked where does Jyotiraditya Scindia stand in scheme of things in Madhya Pradesh politics at present, Nath answered that is for the BJP to decide, and not the Congress. He said he has nothing to with what Scindia’s plans are or where he stands vis-à-vis Madhya Pradesh politics.
A journalist wanted to know how challenging it had been for the Nath-led Madhya Pradesh Congress to pick up the pieces after the setback in 2020, and how did they prepare for this big fight. Kamal Nath said the Congress won the mayoral elections after 35 years, about 15 months back, which in itself is a turning point. “We won Mayoral elections in Morena, which is almost a suburb of Gwalior, Nath said, indicating that it was when things started turning around for Congress in the poll-bound Madhya Pradesh. Only time will tell how accurate Nath is about Congress’s prospects in the assembly elections scheduled on November 17. In any case, it’s going to be a milestone. (IPA Service)