M.P. Cabinet formation becomes a tricky task for Congress

Aspirants from different camps make the job complicated.

December 18, 2018 10:13 pm | Updated December 05, 2021 08:57 am IST - Bhopal

Token of appreciation:  Farmers garlanding Madhya Pradesh CM Kamal Nath following his decision to waive off farm loans in the State, in Bhopal on Tuesday.

Token of appreciation: Farmers garlanding Madhya Pradesh CM Kamal Nath following his decision to waive off farm loans in the State, in Bhopal on Tuesday.

The Congress is in a tricky situation in Madhya Pradesh Cabinet formation.

Several ministerial aspirants from different camps led by Digvijaya Singh, Jyotiraditya Scindia, former Union Ministers Suresh Pachouri and Arun Yadav, Rajya Sabha MP VivekTankha, ex-MP Meenakshi Natrajan, and former Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Ajay Singh are demanding a big share in ministerial berths. Too many aspirants and the challenge of keeping a caste and regional balance could hold up the Ministry-making effort of the Kamal Nath government.

 

First spark of dissent

The party witnessed the first spark of dissent when Mr. Scindia, State Congress campaign committee chairman, left for home after Mr. Nath, 72, was picked for the top job in the State on Friday night.

A day later, on Saturday, Mr. Scindia was mobbed by MLAs and his supporters outside his residence in Delhi. They claimed that at least 15 legislators wanted him to become the deputy chief minister or to grab the party chief’s post that automatically fell vacant after Mr. Nath took oath as Chief Minister.

Sources in the Congress said Mr. Scindia had pointed out to the party leadership that during the entire Assembly election campaign, the BJP’s slogan “Maaf karo Maharaj, hamara neta toh Shivraj”, (Sorry Maharaj, our leader is Shivraj)’ was targeted against him.

The sources said his supporters are eyeing some meaty portfolios.

Caste bodies' demand

In the past four days, newly-elected party MLAs met Mr. Digvijaya Singh, Mr. Ajay Singh and Mr. Pachouri, seeking ministerial berths. In the meantime, several caste bodies got into the act, demanding representation in the ministry for their community members.

Arif Aqeel, a five-term MLA from Bhopal North, reportedly said that as a member of the minority community, he should be given a ministerial berth. Similarly, several others are also demanding slots, with some of them ferrying supporters from constituencies in a show of strength. With Mr. Aqeel seeking a Cabinet berth, supporters of P.C. Sharma, MLA representing Bhopal South-West, are demanding one for him too.

With several second-rung leaders like Mr. Pachouri, Mr. Ajay Singh, former Ministers Rajendra Singh, Mukesh Nayak losing the elections, the filling up of berths has become that much easier both for Mr. Nath and Mr. Digvijaya Singh. Both are different in many ways, but understand each other very well. They have been given a free hand but are finding it difficult to accommodate all the aspirants.

“If the different factions are not properly accommodated in the Ministry or as chairpersons in boards and corporations, the dissidence is going to become grist for the media,” said a Congress leader, requesting anonymity.

The Congress was forced to make compromises after it emerged as the single largest party with 114 but fell two short of the simple majority mark of 116 in the 230-member Assembly. The party had to take the support of the BSP, the SP and Independents to form the government. Now, there is going to be an intense competition to fill the Cabinet with a limited strength of 34 posts.

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