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Wrangling delays portfolios in M.P.

Madhya Pradesh CM Kamal Nath is greeted by his colleagues ahead of the first Cabinet meet on Wednesday.

Madhya Pradesh CM Kamal Nath is greeted by his colleagues ahead of the first Cabinet meet on Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: A.M. Faruqui

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Senior Congress leaders are locked over allocation of lucrative ministries

Formation of a Congress government in Madhya Pradesh after its victory in the Assembly polls may have been a smooth process, but portfolio allocation is proving to be contentious issue with senior Congress leaders insisting on prized portfolios for their family members and supporters.

Four days after the State got 28 new Cabinet ministers, the internal tussle over portfolios is threatening derail the fragile unity among factions even as several MLAs, who have not been included, have been vocal in their displeasure.

Inconclusive discussions

Although negotiations between the senior leaders — Chief Minister Kamal Nath, Digvijaya Singh and Jyotiraditya Scindia — went on till late on Thursday, an agreement remained elusive, Congress officials said. They added that finance, home, transport, public works and geology and mines have become the most sought-after ministries. Mr. Nath is looking to strike a balance between caste and regions in allocating ministries.

Allocation of portfolios has not been completed with different camps are vying for lucrative, revenue-generating portfolios, a senior Congress leader said. Mr. Digvijaya Singh has reportedly sought the finance portfolio for his son, Jaivardhan, who has been inducted into the cabinet.

The approach of Congress old guard — Mr Kamal Nath and Mr. Digvijaya Singh — in dealing with Mr. Scinida is also delaying the portfolio distribution, a senior party leader familiar with the development said on Friday morning.

The problem has become so acute that Mr. Scindia reportedly called AICC treasurer Ahmed Patel for consultation.

Overlooked and annoyed

Three party MLAs meanwhile are up in arms over their exclusion from the Cabinet and their supporters have taken to social media to mount pressure for their inclusion.

Madan Sharma, the Bagchini block unit president in Morena district — a part of Gwalior-Chambal region — has sent his resignation to the State party chief and the Chief Minister to protest against the exclusion of four-time sitting MLA and ex-minister Aidal Singh Kansana. Eight of the seven Assembly seats of Morena-Sheopur region were won by the Congress in last month’s polls.

A large number of Mr. Kansana supporters have also gone to Delhi to meet party president Rahul Gandhi.

Badnawar MLA Rajvardhan Singh Dattigaon is also miffed at being overlooked. Addressing party workers in Badnawar in Dhar district, Mr. Singh announced that he would quit the Congress party.

“I have not been made a Minister because my parents were not in the politics. If I would have been the son of a former chief minister, deputy chief minister, I would have easily found a place in the cabinet,” Mr Singh said in a speech that has gone viral on social media.

“I will send my resignation to Jyotiraditya Scindiaji, who gave me a party ticket, as I don't want to keep the burden for myself,” the MLA added.

Tribal anger

Dr Hiralal Alawa, head of the tribal outfit Jai Adivasi Yuva Shakti (JAYS), who fought on a Congress ticket, is another unhappy MLA after he failed to find a representation in Cabinet. The first time legislator openly accused the Congress of reneging on promises, and demanded a meeting with Mr Gandhi.

In a tweet, the medical practitioner turned MLA warned the party not to forget the contribution of the JAYS in ensuring a Congress government in the State.

BJP sarcasm

The delay in the allocation of portfolios has allowed the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party to launch an attack on the government. Former chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said the delay was a “matter of concern”

“I extended my wishes to the new government, but it is a matter of concern the way formation of cabinet was delayed and now portfolio distribution is being delayed. However, we are seeing media reports and various Congress leaders are insisting for particular departments causing delay in the allocation. Quota of different camps (of Congress) was fixed. This delay is historic and never happened in the State,” Mr. Chouhan told reporters on Thursday.

The State Congress’ Media In-charge Shobha Ojha, however, said, “Portfolio allocation is expected to be over by today [Friday] evening”.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2020 9:44:40 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/wrangling-delays-portfolios-in-mp/article25853975.ece

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