Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath on Saturday advised senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh to choose from among the most difficult seats if he wants to contest the general elections.
“I have requested him to choose the toughest seat in the state if he wants to contest. There are two, three seats that we have not won for 30-35 years,” the CM said when reporters sought his reaction to speculation over Singh’s interest in contesting from Rajgarh, his home turf.
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Nath’s remarks are being seen as his way of getting even with Singh, who was chief minister from 1993 to 2003. After the Congress was routed in the 2003 Assembly elections, he had vowed not to contest another election for 10 years. He kept his promise and is now Rajya Sabha member from the state.
After the Congress returned to power in the state after 15 years, party insiders alleged that Singh started interfering in governance. Last month, Singh publicly criticised Home Minister Bala Bachchan and Forest Minister Umang Singhar for giving a clean chit to the BJP government in the Mandsaur case (five farmers died in police firing) and plantation of saplings along the Narmada. Bachchan belongs to the Nath camp and Singhar to Jyotiraditya Scindia camp. When in Opposition, the Congress had campaigned on these two issues.
However, Singh had spared his son Jaivaradhan Singh, who too had given a clean chit to the BJP government in the alleged scam in Simhastha Kumbh.
The senior leader had tried to make amends later by scolding his son, but the snub to Bachchan and Singhar had rankled the party. A few days ago, Singh suggested he could contest from Rajgarh or any other seat the party chose for him. Nath’s advice was seen as an attempt to cut Singh to size.
After the advice, Nath did add that it was up to Singh to take a call on the seat he chooses.
Rajgarh has been won by Singh and his younger brother Laxman Singh several times on Congress symbol. In 2004, however, the younger brother defected to the BJP and won on the lotus symbol. He returned to the party fold after losing the next election. In the recent Assembly elections, Singh’s son Jaivardhan won Raghogarh and Laxman won Chachoura, both part of the Rajgarh parliamentary constituency.