Senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh opting out of the All India Congress Committee presidential race sparked a war of words in his home State of Madhya Pradesh.
State Home Minister and senior BJP leader Narottam Mishra accused former Chief Minister and State Congress President Kamal Nath of scuttling Mr. Singh’s chances after Mr. Singh opted out of the race. In response, Mr. Nath advised Mr. Mishra to focus on the affairs of his own party.
“Mr. Nath is the State president and his so-called younger brother [Mr. Singh] [would have become] the national President, how is this possible?” said Mr. Mishra, taking a dig at the Congress which had “failed to elect a President in the past three years”.
He was commenting on the developments on Friday, which saw Mr. Singh – who had even collected his nomination form – citing fellow veteran Mallikarjun Kharge’s candidature as the reason for his last-minute decision to not contest.
Hitting back at these remarks at a press conference in Bhopal, Mr. Nath said: “If Narottam Mishra knows so much about the Congress, it would be better if he knew just as much about the BJP as well.”
On a direct question on Mr. Singh being a “strong and good candidate from MP” had he contested, Mr. Nath did not give a direct answer. He said that Mr. Singh “knew a lot about MP” as he was the Chief Minister for ten years and had also headed the State unit for a decade.
Mr. Nath himself was among those whose name had cropped up as a possible candidate, especially after the developments in Rajasthan last week threw a spanner in the prospects of the State’s Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, who was by then said to be the frontrunner. Mr. Nath opted out saying he wanted to remain in Madhya Pradesh itself and work towards strengthening the party here.
He reiterated on Friday that several leaders had asked him to go file nominations and he had avoided going to Delhi as the deadline for the nomination approached on purpose due to that.
‘South should be also get representation’
Calling Mr. Kharge as a strong leader, Mr. Nath said he would vote for the Leader of the Opposition Party (LoP) in the Rajya Sabha. “He is quite senior, hails from the South and the South should also get representation,” he said.