Sonia Gandhi steps in to quell feud in MP unit, to meet Kamal Nath today

Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Friday stepped in to quell the feud within the Madhya Pradesh Congress unit even as the high command warned of strict action against those making public statements or indulging in indiscipline. Chief Minister and state Congress president Kamal Nath will meet Sonia on Saturday.

The intervention by the Congress president came even as the war of words between senior Congress leaders continued, with former chief minister Digvijaya Singh demanding that individuals be punished for indiscipline, irrespective of their stature. This prompted a sharp retort from Forest Minister Umang Singhar, who said everyone should remain disciplined.

Sonia sought a report from AICC general secretary in-charge of Madhya Pradesh Deepak Babaria. Babaria met her Friday evening with a report. Sources said Babaria has said in his report that Singhar’s outburst was unwarranted. “I am asking Congress leaders and workers in Madhya Pradesh to refrain from making any public statements or indulging in any indiscipline. Otherwise, it will be dealt with very strictly,” Babaria told The Indian Express after meeting Sonia.

On Singhar’s outburst against Singh, he said “it was most unfortunate”. “Being a senior minister, how could he do that? He should not have done that. He should have come to the high command and not made statements in the media…but since he is a minister, the matter is now with the high command,” Babaria said.

“He (Singhar) may have some grievances…What I personally feel is that all things should not have been taken to the media,” he added.

The Congress high command is concerned about the raging feud. It does not want the situation to go out of hand and affect the stability of the Kamal Nath government, which is surviving on a thin majority. The internal war is also bad optics for the grand old party which is struggling to find its feet after the Lok Sabha election debacle.

With the Congress high command getting ready to appoint a new PCC president for Madhya Pradesh in place of Nath, Singhar’s attack on Singh is seen as part of the tussle between the Jyotiraditya Scindia and the Nath-Singh camps. Singhar is said to be close to Scindia. In his first media interaction after Singhar accused him of interference, Singh said it was for Nath and and party president Sonia to take a call.

He added, “There should be discipline in every party. If someone indulges in indiscipline, no matter how big an individual,
action should be taken.’’

Hours later, Singhar tweeted, “It’s my suggestion that everyone should remain disciplined.’’

Singh has defended his decision to write to ministers, seeking an audience with them to know the status of transfers and other works he recommended. As an MP, he said, it was his right and duty to write to ministers.

Meanwhile, reacting to senior Congress leader P Chidambaram’s arrest, Singh alleged that the Centre was following the Gujarat model of governance where the “innocent are framed and many cases slapped against them”.