Digvijay emerges MP Cong strong man

L.S. Herdenia

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath has accomplished a Herculean task. Although in theory the chief minister alone has the prerogative about the formation of the ministry, the ground reality is totally different. The chief minister has to play a delicate balancing act and by and large he has performed very well.
In a state like Madhya Pradesh the chief minister has to take care of factors, including regional, caste, factional representation and also representation of tribals and scheduled castes. It is generally believed that Kamal Nath has succeeded in also giving representation to two important factional leaders – Digvijay Singh and Jyotiraditya Scindia.
Most of the ministerial berths have been given to followers of Digvijay Singh, Scindia and Kamal Nath himself. Only one berth has been given to Sachin Yadav, brother of Arun Yadav.
The names of the ministers were finalised by state Congress leaders, including Nath, Scindia and Singh and ultimately by party president Rahul Gandhi. The cabinet team includes 11 loyalists of the chief minister, nine belonging to the Digvijay Singh camp and seven owing loyalty to Scindia and one from Arun Yadav’s camp. Keeping the regional balance in view Kamal Nath inducted nine legislators from Malwa-Nimar, six from central Madhya Pradesh, five representing Gwalior-Chambal region, three from Bundelkhand and one from Vindhya Pradesh.
Despite all attempts to please all the factions, two important leaders were left out. One of them is K. P. Singh, regarded as a Digvijay Singh follower. His exclusion led to loud protests by his followers, who raised slogans and asserted that it was injustice to their constituency as a five term MLA. It is well known that the Scindia camp prevented his entry in the cabinet.
Besides K. P. Singh, the non-inclusion of BSP and SP MLAs also led to mild protests. The support of two BSP and lone SP MLA is very crucial for the Nath government. They were not included as Kamal Nath had declared that no first time MLA will be made minister. BSP and SP MLAs were first-timers; therefore they were not given the ministerial berth.
Besides Congress MLAs one independent MLA has been included. He contested as independent after he was denied ticket by Congress. Interestingly he defeated Sanjay Singh Masani, brother-in-law of former chief minister Shiv Raj Singh Chouhan, who was sponsored by the Congress.
All the 28 ministers have been given cabinet rank. This is unusual as normally some ministers are given only minister of state rank.
Those who have made it to the ministry include the son of Digvijay Singh, who also happens to be the youngest minister. Only two women have been included. Incidentally both of them come from reserved categories while Arif Aqueel will represent Muslims in the cabinet. Aqueel was also member of the Digvijay Singh Ministry. Besides him there is one more Muslim MLA. Both hail from Bhopal.
After the cabinet formation it is generally felt that besides Kamal Nath, Digvijay Singh emerged as the strongest person. He played a crucial role in the election, in the selection of Kamal Nath as CM and also in the choice of ministers. He is also expected to play a decisive role in the selection of new chief secretary and director general of Police and also in giving assignments to various senior officers. While Kamal Nath has vast experience as a Central minister, Digvijaya Singh has the experience of state administration. Both will make an effective, efficient team.
Addressing an informal cabinet meeting held at the PCC office, the chief minister advised his colleagues not to ‘leave their ground’ and remain in constant touch with the people and prepare for the Lok Sabha elections. Besides Kamal Nath, Digvijay Singh also addressed the meeting. Both of them asked the cabinet members which portfolio they would like to be allotted and reason thereof. (IPA)

Saturday, 5 January, 2019