The Congress party finally named its leader of the legislature party on Saturday,two days before the new Madhya Pradesh Assembly begins its first session. The high commands decision to retain 79-year-old Jamuna Devi as CLP leader is a clear reflection of the infighting within the party that delayed the process in the first place.
Devi,who was first elected to Madhya Bharat Vidhan Sabha in 1952,did not do much inside the House during her five-year stint as the leader from 2003 to warrant her retention. Her performance outside the Assembly was better,a Congress office-bearer said,adding that the party did not seem to have learnt any lesson from the recent thrashing in the polls.
Since all the factions stuck to their guns,there was no unanimity on contenders like HRD minister Arjun Singhs son Ajay Singh,Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindias confidant Mahendra Singh Kalukheda,Digvijay Singhs supporter and former minister Harvansh Singh or Union minister Kamal Naths acolyte Sajjan Singh Varma.
Varma,however,was named deputy leader. Kalukheda had emerged as a strong contender,but failed to make the grade after Ajay Singh reportedly withdrew from the fray in the face of stiff opposition from other factions.
Devi,who was deputy CM from 2000 to 2003,benefitted from the uncertainty that prevailed since 71 MLAs met here on December 14,nearly a week after the results were announced. The meeting ended with a one-line resolution authorising AICC president Sonia Gandhi to name the leader.