Congress mishandled Madhya Pradesh: Scindia exit just one part of the story
Shams Ur Rehman Alavi
BHOPAL: While there is too much focus on Jyotiraditya Scindia's exit from Congress, the circumstances that led to the situation in Madhya Pradesh haven't got much attention.
Particularly, the manner in which severe discontent among senior party legislators was not addressed, rather, they were made to feel 'unwanted' and even 'insulted' should have forced the party leadership to introspect.
Imagine the situation that leaders who have been legislators for decades and have been staunch party loyalists, would have no one even listen to their basic demands or even give them due attention. A security personnel making them wait for hours and refusing to let them meet chief minister or the latter directing them to a 'political non-entity' to air their grievance.
"It hurts your self-respect when you are mistreated and asked to go to a nobody instead of the top leader, repeatedly", says an insider. "Even after a veteran legislator was brought back from Bengaluru and was promised ministerial berth, he refused and went to BJP, not because of ideology but that 'enough was enough' for him", he further added.
In fact, there was a strange complacency at the top of the party, from the beginning, though Congress did not have a comfortable majority. The legislators who gave outside support were not given due attention and despite promises, they were neither made ministers nor accommodated elsewhere.
This led to a sense of hopelessness among others too. They felt that when even those MLAs whose support was crucial for the stability of the government were being ignored, others stood no chance. Senior leaders who had strong base in their constituencies also felt sidelined.
They were not considered to even head boards or cooperations. On the other hand, certain other legislators who had little experience, were made cabinet ministers. One of the senior most legislators, a hard-core Congress leader, who would never have left the party, expressed that how humiliated he felt that he could not even meet the chief minister despite repeated attempts.
Even though there were attempts to disloge the government, the Congress leadership in the state had developed the strange complacency. The party cadre wanted strong action against BJP leaders involved in scams and expected leadership to pursuse Vyapam cases, but there was no such action.
Veteran leaders were sulking and the party cadre was demoralized. Loyalists who waited for 15 years, expected some rewards but the posts in boards and corporations were not filled. Besides, the control of Kamal Nath's 'Chhindwara team' was resented as the legislators felt powerless.
Party leaders would rue how Kamal Nath was yet to come out of the 'Union minister role' and start interacting with his legislators. But this didn't happen. In case of some legislators, it was a sense of desperation and the feeling of 'humiliation', more than their association with Scindia, that made them vulnerable. And, the BJP saw the opportunity.
As far as Scindia is concerned, he may appear a prized catch but his entry causes other problems for BJP, hurts prospects of its prominent leaders in Gwalior-Chambal region from Narottam Mishra to Narendra Singh Tomar, and a host of others, as well as to those in Bhopal, Indore.
Soon, we will know if govt remains or goes. But for Congress, the entire episode has several lessons. Congress CMs, leaders can't remain 'detached' and ignore the cadre. They must be proactive, alert. It's '24/7 politician' era, you've to listen to MLAs-workers, at least, meet them and listen to them. Not feel that once elected, govt will run on its own for 5 yrs!