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Kamal Nath’s power show for RS seat, invites Cong MLAs for dinner on Feb 13

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Bhopal, Feb 11: With less than a week left for nomination filing for the Rajya Sabha election scheduled for February 27, veteran Congress leader and former Chief Minister Kamal Nath, who is currently an MLA, has invited party legislators for a dinner at his residence here.

The dinner invite is for February 13, just two days before the last date of nomination on February 15.

Kamal Nath recently met Congress high command and former AICC president Sonia Gandhi in Delhi seeking her approval for the same. Sources in the Congress said Kamal Nath was yet to receive any clearance from Sonia Gandhi.

Sources also told IANS that Congress MP Rahul Gandhi has been upset with Kamal Nath following the party’s defeat in the state Assembly election held in November last year.

A Delhi-based senior Congress leader and ex-Rajya Sabha MP, who has been close to the Gandhi family has said that Rahul Gandhi has even stopped communicating with Kamal Nath.

“He (Rahul Gandhi) is upset because the Congress lost the election in Madhya Pradesh despite Kamal Nath being given full authority for taking decisions pertaining to the Assembly election,” the ex-Rajya Sabha MP said on condition of anonymity.

The term of five Rajya Sabha members from Madhya Pradesh ends in April — four are with BJP, including the seats of Union ministers Dharmendra Pradhan and L. Murugan, and one with Congress’ Rajmani Patel.

Kamal Nath, who is currently an MLA from his bastion Chhindwara, is willing to return to the national politics after having spent six years in the state. He had taken charge as president of the Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) around six months before the Assembly election in 2018.

Since then, he has reshaped the state unit, and was successful in bringing back the Congress into power after a gap of 15 years in 2018. However, factionalism led to a crisis within the unit which resulted in the end of his government within 15 months.

In 2022, the Congress managed to win five out of 16 Mayoral seats in Madhya Pradesh, including Gwalior — the bastion of Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia. That victory boosted confidence of the party cadre, however, it witnessed stunning loss in the Assembly election in November 2023.

Following the party’s defeat, the Congress high command has replaced Kamal Nath with new state president Jitu Patwari. Therefore, Kamal Nath – a nine-time Lok Sabha MP from Chhindwara, who has headed several ministries during UPA 1 and 2, is willing to return to national politics through the Rajya Sabha.

Though the Congress was yet to announce the name of its candidate for the Upper House, sources said the party’s high command was likely to nominate an OBC or a Dalit candidate. If sources are to be believed Arun Yadav, who is from the opposite faction of Kamal Nath, is also in the race for Rajya Sabha.

As Kamal Nath has invited Congress MLAs for dinner, it is being judged as an exercise for a show of strength. As the veteran leader had an upper hand in the ticket distribution during the Assembly polls, many MLAs were with him.

The Congress has a total 66 MLAs in Madhya Pradesh, and therefore, it would be interesting to see how many of them join Kamal Nath’s dinner party cum meeting on February 13. Also, will Kamal Nath get support from his old party colleague and two-time former CM Digvijaya Singh, who is already in the Upper House, is to be seen. (IANS)

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