The Congress in Madhya Pradesh is looking at an organizational reshuffle, as several senior leaders of the state unit of the party were inducted into the cabinet led by chief minister Kamal Nath that came to power in December 2018.
The key challenge for Congress president Sonia Gandhi will be to look for a “consensus" candidate for the position of state party chief, who will be acceptable to all factions.
Chief minister Kamal Nath still holds the post of state party president. The party’s state working presidents Jitu Patwari and Bala Bachchan are state ministers.
Brainstorming in the top leadership for replacing Nath as state party chief has already begun and an announcement on his successor could happen soon, according to senior party leaders. Nath was appointed as the state unit chief in April 2018 in the run up to the assembly elections.
“Meetings have taken place to deliberate on the pending appointment. Sonia Gandhi’s focus is on choosing a candidate who is acceptable to all three factions in the state and is someone who will be able to take all sections of the party together," said a senior party leader who is involved with the appointment process, requesting anonymity.
Nath, former chief minister Digvijay Singh, and former Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia are the leaders of the three factions in the party. The Congress performed poorly in the Lok Sabha elections in May 2019 losing all seats, barring the one that was won by the chief minister’s son Nakul Nath.
Singh and Scindia, who lost in their constituencies in the general elections, continue to be closely involved with the party’s activities in the state. Scindia has also been appointed as the chief of Congress’ screening committee for the Maharashtra assembly elections.
Sonia Gandhi, who is at the helm of affairs, may give preference to more experienced leaders, or the “old guard" for key positions, according to a section of party leaders. However, other leaders differ.
“There is no clarity right now on any one name. It is not about whether the leader should be young or old. Sonia Gandhi is looking at someone who can take the party along. That really is the priority right now," said a senior leader from the state.
Madhya Pradesh sends 30 lawmakers to the Lok Sabha and is thus crucial for the electoral mathematics of the Congress.