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MP Congress confident Kamal Nath will lead party in 2023 polls amid buzz over ‘national role’

Additional role at national level likely; BJP takes a dig saying Nath in dilemma

Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath

Even as rumours regarding his elevation as working president of the Indian National Congress (INC) were strongly dismissed by Madhya Pradesh ex-chief minister Kamal Nath, the state unit seems to be hopeful and even confident that the veteran leader will lead the party in 2023 Assembly polls.

After rumours were triggered about his possible national role, Kamal Nath reiterated to the media on Thursday that ‘he was in Madhya Pradesh and he will remain in Madhya Pradesh’. He also clarified that his meeting with Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi – the point that triggered the speculations – was about the Punjab Congress imbroglio.

Nath has repeated time and again that he will always remain in Madhya Pradesh politics several times now even as speculations have time and again erupted over his shifting to a national role. The Madhya Pradesh BJP has even made this point a big issue during the crucial bypolls in November 2020, saying that Nath will soon leave Madhya Pradesh for good.

But the MP Congress unit and even political watchers feel that though Nath might take upon an additional coordinating role at national level, especially after the demise of Ahmed Patel, he will not quit Madhya Pradesh as of now. Nath is considered most suitable for a national coordinating role as he is a very senior leader with strong intra and inter-party-political relations. Also, he is said to have a knack to take care of finances, which is an important issue for the Congress at this juncture.

Political watchers feel speculations of Nath becoming a working president seems a little far-fetched at this juncture ahead of Punjab Assembly poll, because of Nath’s alleged role in the 1984 Delhi pogrom against Sikhs.

Meanwhile, the MP Congress feels that Nath is the best bet to lead the party for next Assembly polls as he is the most senior with a good hold over most of the current party leaders. Also, there is a feeling among people that Nath could have done well as CM had he got his time, Congress sources said.

Also, sources say, Nath singlehandedly manages to keep the MP unit of the party floating financially.

“He will certainly lead the MP Congress in the 2023 Assembly polls, win it and be chief minister again. He himself is set on this agenda. And even if there is any chance of him being shifted, we will not allow that,” K.K. Mishra, senior leader and general secretary of MP Congress media cell, told THE WEEK.

He also dismissed the rumours of rift between Nath and Rajya Sabha member Digvijaya Singh. Mishra said that the two leaders were very much together and ‘will ride a single chariot for election victory in 2023’.

Even as rumours of the rift erupted again recently, Nath had written a letter to the MP chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan in support of Singh’s agitation against grant of a prime land to an RSS affiliate in Bhopal, showing clear signs of solidarity.

Political commentator Manish Dixit said that the biggest possibility at this point of time is that Kamal Nath will give up one of his dual roles in the state. “Most probably the party should have a new leader of opposition soon while Nath continues as the state chief,” he said.

Meanwhile, the BJP has taken a dig at the situation again. State home minister Narottam Mishra said that Nath was bewildered and facing a big dilemma at this age, as Digvijaya Singh was not allowing him to remain in Madhya Pradesh and Rahul Gandhi was not allowing him to enter Delhi.

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