18 Feb 2024

Madhya Pradesh: Congress Faces Challenge as Kamal Nath Contemplates BJP Switch; What Party is Doing to Limit Damage?

The potential move of veteran leader Kamal Nath switching over the BJP has prompted the Congress in  Madhya Pradesh to engage in damage control efforts. Party leaders, including Madhya Pradesh Congress chief Jitu Patwari and Leader of Opposition Umang Singhar, are personally reaching out to MLAs to prevent a mass exodus ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

Sources reveal that the focus is on individuals closely associated with Kamal Nath and his son Nakul Nath, with the aim of addressing their concerns and preventing defections. Key figures such as former ministers Sajjan Singh Verma and Sukhdev Panse, as well as several MLAs, are currently in Delhi with Nath.

Verma emphasized the importance of pride, respect, and self-respect in politics

While former minister Sajjan Singh Verma clarified that Kamal Nath has not yet decided to join the BJP, he emphasized the importance of pride, respect, and self-respect in politics.

Verma said, "Only three things matter in politics -- Maan (pride), Samman (respect) and Swabhimaan (self-respect). When these are hurt, a leader is bound to take major decisions. As of now, Kamal Nath ji hasn't decided to join BJP. Whatever is doing the rounds is pure speculation. If a towering leader who has dedicated over 40 years of his life to the Congress doesn't get the respect he deserves, he is bound to take major decisions. I have been his follower for four decades and will follow him."

Kamal Nath and his son Nakul's recent visit to Delhi has fueled speculation about a potential move to the BJP. If this transition occurs, it would pose a significant challenge to the Congress, particularly in Madhya Pradesh, where the BJP has a strong presence. 

The potential loss of a substantial number of MLAs could further weaken the Congress and provide protection against the anti-defection law for those switching sides.

The Congress leadership in Madhya Pradesh remains optimistic, with state party chief Jitu Patwari dismissing the idea of Kamal Nath's son joining the BJP. However, reports indicate that the BJP leadership has been in contact with Kamal Nath for several weeks.

Despite the uncertainty, Kamal Nath, in his recent statements to the media, neither confirmed nor denied the potential move, maintaining that he would inform the public if any decision is made. The situation adds another layer of complexity for the Congress, reminiscent of the Jyotiraditya Scindia-led rebellion that toppled the government in 2020, with Kamal Nath at the helm.

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