MP CM Kamal Nath: Cong’s War Horse From Indira’s Time to Rahul’s

MP CM Kamal Nath: Cong’s War Horse From Indira’s Time to Rahul’s

Madhya Pradesh Elections 2018

Video Producer: Shohini Bose
Video Editor:
Vishal Kumar, Sandeep Suman

When Kamal Nath was named the Congress chief in Madhya Pradesh in April ahead of the Assembly polls, many in the party recalled that former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi described him as her "third son" who helped her take on the Morarji Desai-led regime in 1979.

Also Read : Kamal Nath is the New CM of Madhya Pradesh

Thirty-nine years later, the senior-most member in the 16th Lok Sabha and a nine-time MP from Chhindwara donned his battle gear to help Indira Gandhi's grandson and Congress President Rahul Gandhi break ground for the opposition party in the central Indian state, dislodging Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

After a day-long drama, he was officially appointed the chief minister of the state in a close-race with Jyotiraditya Scindia.

People in Chhindwara refer to the district as an ‘oasis’ in the dirt. There are also references like ‘keechad mein kamal’.

Kamal Nath: Captain of the Ship That Sailed Through

Born in Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh to businessman father Mahendra Nath and mother Leela, Nath is an alumnus of the prestigious Doon School (at Dehradun in Uttarakhand). He did his graduation from St Xavier's college, Kolkata, before taking the plunge into politics.

Along with Jyotiraditya Scindia, Kamal Nath, 72, was tasked with reviving the fortunes of the opposition Congress in Madhya Pradesh, where the party had been out of power since 2003 and had to face a BJP onslaught in the final days of electioneering.

The BJP attacked Nath after an audio-video clip went viral in which he was heard asking clerics to ensure 90 percent voting in the state's Muslim-dominated areas to ensure a Congress victory.

When Nath was chosen by Rahul Gandhi as the state Congress chief in April over Jyotiraditya Scindia, the MP Congress unit was riddled with factionalism.

Nath made efforts to bring together senior party leaders – former MP chief minister Digvijay Singh, Scindia and Suresh Pachouri – well aware that groupism may have had a role in keeping the party out of power for the last 15 years.

He ensured that regional satraps got representation in the allotment of tickets. The Congress also made judicious use of the energetic Scindia to pull voters towards the party by appointing him the state campaign committee chief.

After the ticket distribution, the state Congress roped in Digvijay Singh to quell dissent in the party.

The state Congress was able to withdraw most of its rebels from the election arena, an area in which the BJP did not fare well.

As electioneering started, Nath trained his guns on the BJP, knowing that Chouhan’s popularity, built over schemes for every section of society, needed to be countered.

Under Nath's leadership, the state Congress focused its campaign on the "unfulfilled" promises of Chouhan, whom the party dubbed as "ghoshnaveer" (a man of hollow promises), a term that sparked street debates over the fate of schemes announced by Chouhan.

As the electioneering gained momentum, the state Congress launched the slogan "Waqt hai badlav ka" (time for change has come) to pull voters towards the party.

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Madhya Pradesh Elections 2018