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Congress in a bind: From Dabra to abracadabra

Lalit Shastri

Dabra spirit

The Dabra spirit had brought Congress to power in Madhya Pradesh in 1993

Now only some abracadabra can help Congress continue in power in this central Indian State.

In the 90s of the last Century, the Dabra spirit was built by Madhavrao Scindia. It had gone a long way in building a cohesive and united campaign for the 1993 Assembly election resulting in Congress party’s victory against the BJP and its return to power in Madhya Pradesh after a gap of three-and-half years. More info

And now, the present…

Senior Congress leader and former Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia has been unhappy over the way he has been sidelined by the Congress leadership, particularly party President Sonia Gandhi, vis-a-vis Madhya Pradesh. After his grueling and long drawn campaign for the 2018 Assembly election, when he took head-on the BJP that had ruled the State uninterruptedly for 15 years, and had helped his party in a big way in returning to power, Scindia almost became a persona non grata, especially in terms of the State party unit and also implementation of government policies and programmes keeping in focus the electoral promises.

This was sending the wrong message among the Scindia followers and as inner-party dissension began mounting with each passing day, the BJP mandarins also started working over-time to rope in the dissenting voices taking full advantage of the inner-party strife and this in recent days has even put a question mark on the stability of the Kamal Nath led State Congress Government. Matters took a serious turn when it was reported that about 8 MLAs, including those from the Congress and its allies were camping at a resort in Gurgaon. At this juncture, the ruling faction in MP accused the the BJP of horse-trading for the Rajya Sabha election this month. BJP also has been accused of using money power to lure Congress MLAs to topple the State Government. In teh meanwhile there were reports that a number of Congress MLAs were hiding at a resort in Bengaluru.

Finally the lid was off today (Monday, 9 March 2020), when a cross-section of media flashed reports stating that a dozen and-half Congress MLAs had left Bhopal for Bengaluru by two chartered flights accompanied by a Scindia aide.

Obviously alarm bells were raised and Chief Minister Kamal Nath, who was in Delhi for a meeting with the Congress leadership, rushed to the State capital and called a late night meeting of the Cabinet. This moment was utilised by the Chief Minister to secure the resignations of all his Cabinet colleagues and give the message that the Cabinet was being rejigged to assuage the sentiments of the angry factions within the ruling party. There is also a talk of the party offering Scindia the post of State Congress president. Till now the CM was holding the dual responsibility of running the State the Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee.

It remains to be seen whether or not Scindia will take the plunge and split the Congress Legislature Party to topple the State Government Government. If that happens it would be a repeat of what happened in the mid-60s of the last century when Jyotiraditya’s grand mother – Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia was instrumental in toppling the DP Mishra led Congress government and forming the Sanyukta Vidhayak Dal Government – the first coalition government in the State – headed by Govind Narayan Singh.

The State Governor, who was in Lucknow also rushed to Bhopal on Monday. With the State Assembly session scheduled to begin next week, all eyes are now on the ensuing power battle in Madhya Pradesh.

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