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‘Congress lacks efficient tiers of management in Madhya Pradesh’

Congress Rajya Sabha MP and Madhya Pradesh functionary Vivek Tankha says the obituary of the Kamal Nath government was written the day it was sworn in. In a conversation with TOI’s Subodh Ghildiyal, the senior lawyer attributes the departure of Jyotiraditya Scindia and a sizeable number of MLAs to loose ends in Congress’s organisational structure in the state. Excerpts:
How did so many Congress MLAs quit the party which led to the collapse of the MP government?
The immediate reason for that is poaching of our MLAs by BJP. But it could happen only because of problems within Congress. Our problems facilitated BJP’s poaching and BJP excels in it. It is a well-funded party.
But how could MP Congress with campaigners like Kamal Nath,Digvijaya Singh, Jyotiraditya Scindia go so wrong?
I had always heard from these three functionaries that success of any democratic government depends on sharing, that one should learn to share. Somewhere, that principle was missing this time.
Is the perception correct that Scindia did not see a future for himself in Madhya Pradesh Congress?
I think his space in politics, created over 35 years including tenure of his father, was in Congress. He will never find the same space in BJP. In Congress, he was virtually seen as a star. But he left because possibly he didn’t see a future for himself.
If things were going so wrong, did anyone ever voice concerns about functioning of state Congress?
About a month back, I suggested that for a good organisation, you need efficient tiers of management — an efficient CM, an effective state president and an AICC general secretary in-charge who enjoys overarching confidence. In case of MP, the general secretary was too junior to deal with three senior members like Kamal Nath, Digvijaya Singh and Scindia. There was no independent Congress president. So, if issues arose in the state, there was none to resolve them. I was among the few who was speaking on these issues from first day. But though a senior lawyer with political awareness, I was considered new to politics and whatever I said was never taken seriously. The fact is that the day we formed the government and the way it was done, we wrote its obituary. This was writ large through the state. For a stable government, the four independent MLAs and three from SP and BSP should have been part of the government. Senior Congress MLAs got left out of the government and were angry from Day one. This was the genesis of this crisis.
But why was such an elementary step of coalition politics not followed?
I can’t answer this. Only higher leadership can answer this.
That the government formed after 15 years could not last 15 months is a big failure for members like Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh who were touted as masters of political management?
They themselves are as disappointed today. What has happened, they could not have imagined. They had an inkling of this trouble but it is the magnitude of the exodus that has shocked them.
What is the road ahead for Congress in MP?
Congress needs to rebuild itself. It has to bring in new, young people in the organisation. We need to once again start from the grassroots and create an organisation which can fight future polls. In last one and half years, no party meetings have been held at block or district levels. There was no plan or strategy, everything was Bhopal-centric. If there is no thought in this direction, how will we strengthen the organisation. Every party has to look after the organisation besides good governance. MP is a two-party system and disenchantment with BJP government would lead people to Congress. But to revitalise the party, we have to start from the bottom. The victory in MP was not a victory of Congress but a defeat of BJP.
Can such a factionalised Congress unit rebuild after this setback?
Whatever is the leadership in MP, it should not encourage factionalism. It should instead try to encourage growth of local leadership.

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    TOI

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