Will Congress face another power show in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh?

By Praveen Dwivedi

Bhopal, Mar 21 (IANS): With Assembly elections in the key Hindi heartland state of Madhya Pradesh slated for the end of this year, both the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress have started preparations to come back to power, but for the latter, some of its powerful local leaders are also getting ready to stake their claim.

Thus, the race for becoming the next Chief Minister has apparently begun much before over 5.39 crore electorate, including 13 lakh fresh voters, are yet to cast their ballots.

In 2018, the Congress had managed to come back into power after 15 years after ousting the BJP led by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, but a power tussle for fulfilling political ambitions led to the Kamal Nath government collapsing within 15 months.

In March 2020, Jyotiraditya Scindia, along with 22 Congress MLAs, had shifted to the BJP and as a result, the BJP came back to power and Chouhan became the fourth-time - and the longest-serving - Chief Minister of the state.

Since then, two veteran Congress leaders -- two-time CM Digvijaya Singh and former Chief Minister and state President Kamal Nath -- have once again sought to mount a challenge to the BJP.

But for the Congress, the ominous question is that it was Scindia in 2020, then who can be the next spoil-sport if it manages to return to power.

Some political observers claim the Congress may witness yet another power battle with former minister Jitu Patwari, who is an MLA from Rau Assembly seat of Indore, challenging Kamal Nath's leadership.

According to observers, Patwari, in the past couple of years, has emerged as a heavyweight and his ability has been acknowledged by the people. They cited various circumstances when he has shown his power, including the fresh instance of claiming himself as an 'Executive Chairman' of MP Congress in a letter to Assembly Speaker Girish Gautam following his suspension from the Budget session. Further, during his recent visit to Rewa, Patwari's supporters reached there in around 100 vehicles.

Earlier, Patwari's supporters wanted him to be appointed as state Congress President, for which his supporters had built up pressure on central leadership, sources told IANS.

"Increasing political graph of Jitu Patwari is felt as a challenge for some Congress leaders and he was cornered and his power was also cut time and again. This is the reason the Congress leadership did not back him when he was suspended from the House for the entire Budget session. Had somebody else faced the same suspension, the entire Congress could have protested against the Speaker's decision. But, Patwari is a fearless leader," a veteran journalist who has covered Madhya Pradesh politics for over four decades but requested that he not be named, told IANS.

Patwari's political graph has also increased because of his aggressive style. For instance, during the previous Assembly session, Patwari had accused Chief Minister Chouhan's government of paying public money for some political gatherings of the BJP and RSS, forcing the BJP to find a suitable answer to counter his allegation.

A powerful speaker, the 49-year-old Patwari, who is a law graduate, also has a strong connection with former party President Rahul Gandhi. His closeness to Gandhi was also seen during the 'Bharat Jodo Yatra' leg in Madhya Pradesh.



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