Amid predictable changes in the Congress Working Committee under Rahul Gandhi's leadership, exclusion of All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary Digvijaya Singh was a foregone conclusion.
Once a close confidant and also considered a 'political guru' of Rahul, Digvijaya now won't have any role in the decision-making in party affairs.
Three leaders from Madhya Pradesh who have made it to the party's top decision-making body are Congress' chief whip in Lok Sabha Jyotiraditya Scindia, Dipak Babariya (in-charge of MP unit) and former state Congress president Arun Yadav. However, the move did not come as a surprise as this was not the first time Digvijaya was pushed to the sidelines.
Over the last two years, Digvijaya — the two-term chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, had gradually been kept at a distance due to his oblique remarks that embarrassed the party and also his under-performance to catapult party's winning prospects in the states where he was made in-charge.
In May, he was replaced by former Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy as in-charge of the party's affairs in Andhra Pradesh.
Prior to this, Digvijaya was divested of his role as in-charge of party affairs in Telangana and Karnataka.
Even in 2012, he was removed from being in-charge of the party in Uttar Pradesh and Assam.
Though he has been made chairman of the coordination committee for Congress in Madhya Pradesh, the party high command wants to project veteran leader Kamal Nath and gen next face Scindia as the ones playing a pivotal role in the poll-bound state.
"By excluding Digvijaya Singh from CWC, Congress president Rahul Gandhi has given a message to the voters of Madhya Pradesh that considering the latter’s unpopularity he has been kept away from any decision-making role. It may be temporary, but as of now the decision has been taken keeping the forthcoming Assembly election in mind,” MD Nalapat, a political analyst and professor, Geopolitics, Manipal University told Firstpost.
Digvijaya became the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh in 1993 and was re-elected for the second term in 1998. His reign ended when the BJP won the state in 2003 elections and has retained power in the state ever since.
At the end of his second term, Congress became immensely unpopular due to Digvijaya's policies and the deteriorating condition of the state almost on all parameters.
Even today after 15 years, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan misses no opportunity to attack Digvijaya. His frequent dig at the Congress leader is that it was his policies that made Madhya Pradesh an economically backward state in his two-term rule.
"If Digvijaya Singh is projected to playing an important role in the state, Congress would end up losing miserably in the Assembly polls. Our voters won’t like to see him again as chief minister. It's a wise decision of Congress president to not include him as CWC member," a Congress leader from Madhya Pradesh, who wishes to remain anonymous, told Firstpost.
However, Nath and Scindia still do not enjoy the pan-Madhya Pradesh recall like Digvijaya. The former Madhya Pradesh chief minister is far more popular than the two leaders, especially in the state capital Bhopal and the financial capital Indore. In April, Digvijaya completed his six-month-long Narmada Yatra to reconnect with the masses.
However, that alone might help his case, as despite being an important leader in the Congress, Digvijaya's controversial remarks have embarrassed the party more than it has profited from his experience. Digvijaya's remarks: Calling Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) a 'Hindu terrorist organisation', or tweeting a meme that attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi with crude abuses, or calling Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden as 'Osama ji' provided sufficient fodder to the BJP to attack the Congress.
Considering the anti-incumbency factor and charges of corruption against the Shivraj-led government, the Congress party is hopeful of defeating BJP in Madhya Pradesh. It wouldn’t like to take any chances and antagonise its voters by openly espousing Digvijaya's leadership.
Updated Date: Jul 18, 2018 22:45 PM