It’s not often that either Uma Bharti or Digvijaya Singh, who fought one of the bitterest elections a little over a decade ago, has come to the other’s defence. The two have spoken in the same language on the unfolding MP examination scam pointing out how it has affected lakhs of students, with the former Congress chief minister going to the extent of defending his BJP counterpart.
Singh’s spirited defence, however, took the wind out of his state colleagues’ sails the day after the party had held a press conference in Bhopal asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi to sack Uma from his ministry for recommending a dozen candidates to alleged racketeers.
This has not been the only time Congress leaders have sung different tunes over the scam. Former leader of the opposition Ajay Singh, for one, had accused Governor Ramnaresh Yadav, who was appointed during the UPA regime, of being hand in glove with the BJP.
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“Had I been in his place I would have resigned if my OSD’s name had cropped up during investigation,’’ Ajay Singh said. Yadav is a a Congressman, a former Uttar Pradesh chief minister, but the ruling BJP was silent about him. Other Congress leaders had a hard time fielding questions on their stand on the governor.
Ajay Singh’s outburst is seen as having stemmed from the Congress’s aborted attempt to bring a no-confidence motion against the government in 2013 when he was leader of the opposition. He had wanted Yadav to intervene.
There also appears to be a contest between the Congress’s main spokesman K K Mishra and current Leader of the Opposition Satyadev Katare. Mishra has pointed fingers at Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s close relatives, and was slapped with a criminal defamation suit. Days later, Katare too called a press conference accusing Chouhan of manipulating results and rules to help his niece become a deputy collector, an issue Mishra had tried to raise in the past.
The CM and minister Narottam Mishra dismissed the allegations as a “TRP race’’ fuelled by factionalism within the Congress. The two BJP leaders referred to how Katare had dared Chouhan to slap a criminal defamation case against him even before he had levelled the allegation.
Incidentally, the Congress had shown Mishra the door two years ago after accusing him of working for the BJP. It had set up a committee headed by Katare and asked it to submit a report after visiting Indore, Mishra’s hometown. Since then, however, Mishra has made a comeback as chief spokesman.
Both Katare and Mishra are outspoken. One of Mishra’s recent press conferences was suddenly cancelled at the last moment due to lack of coordination between Katare and PCC chief Arun Yadav.
The Congress’s preparedness will be tested in the MP budget session that begins Monday. A party session to train its new legislators on the finer points of the potential debate on the exam scam did not take place. The party plans to hold that meet on Monday.