As he began the Congress session, Kamal Nath ordered all cellphones switched off (File)
Congress leader Kamal Nath's tutorial on Thursday for party candidates contesting the Madhya Pradesh election had two notable absentees — Jyotiraditya Scindia and Digvijaya Singh. None of them are candidates or members of the state Congress working committee, it was argued, but few believed it.
At the entrance of Manas Bhavan in Bhopal was a poster that caught everyone's attention: "Hearty welcome to future ministers and legislators of MP Government." It was put up by supporters of a Congress candidate.
The poster inside Manas Bhavan had only three faces — Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and Kamal Nath.
The question of future chief minister is what cast a cloud on the session held to train candidates on the basics of counting. Votes cast in the November 28 state election will be counted on December 11. A 54-point document with details of the counting process was handed to every candidate.
Congress candidate and legislator Mahendra Yadav said, "Scindia ji will be our chief minister; the people of the state want a young face to lead the state." Jyotiraditya Scindia had not even contested the polls, it was pointed out. "I have already said I'll vacate and resign from my seat, so he can contest," the candidate replied.
The Madhya Pradesh election was held on November 28
Another contestant, Nilesh Awasthi, said: "We are going to win 145 seats, Kamalnath ji will be the next chief minister."
As he began the session, Kamal Nath ordered all mobile phones switched off. Many saw this as a precaution after his video addressing Muslim Congress workers was leaked and caused a huge controversy.
Asked to respond to several party leaders backing his name for the post of chief minister, Kamal Nath smiled: "We are going to win 140 seats. Wait for a few more days." Any party needs 116 of Madhya Pradesh's 230 seats to win.
The Congress is betting on its chances of seizing power this time in Madhya Pradesh from the BJP, which has been in power for 15 straight years.
The BJP hopes a divided Congress will bring it good dividends. "The leaders are busy fighting for the post of chief minister even before the results are out. Congress leaders are divided over the leadership issue, they are eyeing power, not public welfare," said party spokesperson Hidayatullah Shaikh.
"The only person in the whole state who has got the blessings of the people is (Chief Minister) Shivraj Singh Chouhan."
The BJP has also arranged a similar session on Saturday at Chief Minister Chouhan's official home on Saturday.
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