Assembly polls: Cong won’t project CM face

BHOPAL: Congress will pit its symbol against Shivraj Singh Chouhan in the coming assembly election. Sources in Congress say the party high command doesn’t want to project any chief ministerial candidate in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan or Chhattisgarh.
It’s a Congress tradition not to have a CM face before elections but this time in MP, the party is more concerned about factionalism than convention. For the first time after the disastrous defeat of 2003, Congress factions are willing to join forces and put up a united fight against the Shivraj government. Naming a CM candidate may only reopen cracks, fear Congress leaders.
“We know that the ruling BJP is inquisitive about Congress projection of a face. That decision will be taken by the high-command at the right time,” Deepak Babaria said.
Leader of Opposition Ajay Singh said, “Congress is entirely focused on winning the assembly elections and save the people of the state from BJP’s falsities and deceit. All senior leaders and workers have unitedly taken a vow to defeat BJP. Who will be the face or not will be decided by the high command. Our target is to defeat BJP.” State Congress sources told TOI that the “indication” came from Delhi last week not to announce a chief ministerial candidate.
The recent successes in Chitrakoot bypoll and civic polls in MP and the bypoll wins in Rajasthan, coupled with the strong show in Gujarat, leads the Pradesh Congress to believe it can turn the tide in 2018 election. It doesn’t want to upset the apple cart by projecting one person in a faction-riddled state unit. Last week, Congress leaders put up a massive road show together in Kolaras and Mungaoli assembly seats that go for bypolls on February 24.
Factional fueds keep high command from taking a call

The two roadshows, of 20km each, on January 31saw Kamal Nath, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Suresh Pachauri, Kantilal Bhuria, Arun Yadav and Ajay Singh come together. The only stalwart missing was AICC general secretary and former chief minister Digvijaya Singh, who was away because of his Narmada Parikrama.
In an exclusive interview to TOI in the native village of CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Digvijaya had said he would bring all Congress factions together as soon as he finishes his 3,400km spiritual walk of the Narmada. And in an interview with TOI last month, Congress MP from Guna Jyotiraditya Scindia argued that he personally believed that voters want to know who they are voting for, be it an assembly poll or even ward election. “The people of India have changed. People want to know who they are going to repose their faith in for the next five years,” Scindia said. “So, I believe that a political party that has talent and capability must put forward a face. In many states, it may work for you in some states and in other states it may not work. That’s the chance you have to take.”
It seems the party high-command rather not take that chance in a state where Congress has suffered for three terms because of factional feuds and differences. Central leaders and even PCC chief Arun Yadav refused to comment on the CM-candidate issue on Tuesday. AICC general secretary in-charge of state affairs Deepak Babaria has reiterated many times that the leader will be chosen when the “time is right”.
PCC organizational general secretary Chandrika Prasad Dwivedi explained, “Our face is AICC president Rahul Gandhi. After Congress won Ater and Chitrakoot bypolls, and with the recent results in Gujarat and urban civic polls here in MP’s Badwani and Dhar, everyone is working together under the directions of the high command. All leaders and workers are enthused with the election results turning favourable for Congress. Our priority is to strengthen the organization at the ground level to take on BJP.” TNN