Ministers owing allegiance to Chief Minister Kamal Nath and senior Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia took each other on at the first cabinet meeting of Madhya Pradesh government after it completed six months in office.
Besides being the Chief Minister, Nath is the state Congress chief. Former Guna MP Scindia, it is learnt, is eyeing the post after his defeat in the recent general elections.
However, it is learnt that the bigger reason for the differences between the factions coming to the fore is speculation that the Chief Minister may expand his cabinet.
As and when the expansion takes place, the Chief Minister is likely to remove some ministers to accommodate allies supporting the government and disgruntled party MLAs. In the 230-member Assembly, the Congress has 114 MLAs. The BJP tally has come down to 108 after Jhabua MLA G S Damor was elected to Lok Sabha.
On Wednesday, Pradyumna Singh Tomar and Sukhdev Panse, who owe allegiance to Scindia and Nath, respectively, took on each other. Tomar expressed anger at not being allowed to make his point when Panse tried to stop him from speaking. At least two ministers each from both camps also joined in, forcing the Chief Minister to intervene.
Despite repeated attempts, neither Tomar nor Panse were available for comment. While the ruling party tried to play it down as a difference of opinion between ministers, sources said “everything is not well” in the government.
Ministers of the Scindia camp, it is learnt, are unhappy because officials don’t give them enough importance. Tomar and Umang Singhar, another minister from the Scindia camp, vented their anger against officials on Thursday when they travelled to Gwalior.