Kamal Nath won from his Chhindwara constituency (File)
Kamal Nath -- former Chief Minister-turned-Madhya Pradesh Congress chief -- has been asked to step down from the post, sources said a day after the party got decimated in a state they were sure of winning. The results yesterday showed the BJP had won 163 of the state's 230 seats -- more than double the Congress tally of 66.
The figures made it clear that the situation could not be further from the Congress reading of it.
The party, led by Mr Nath, was convinced that there was huge anti-incumbency against the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government.
So convinced of victory was the party that on the morning of the counting day, posters came up congratulating Mr Nath on his victory. By noon, they had to be pulled down as the BJP established a comfortable lead.
With the party being convinced that anti-incumbency against the BJP would push the election in their direction, the Congress campaign strategy lacked an edge.
The party did not hold massive protests against the BJP to register its presence. The number of public meetings and rallies they held was almost half that of the BJP. This affected communication with the voters and made the party unable to carry its message across, leaders confided in private.
Mr Nath's other move -- denying the promised five to seven seats to INDIA bloc partner Samajwadi Party -- has earned it the wrath of the alliance partners.
Sharing of seats at the state level was expected to be the blueprint for the bloc's one-on-one strategy for next year's general elections -- dubbed a do-or-die battle with the BJP.
"The Congress has not been able to understand the ground situation in Madhya Pradesh. What harm could have happened if they had given 5-7 seats to Akhilesh Yadav? What have they won now?" National Conference chief Omar Abdullah was quoted as saying by news agency Press Trust of India.
"Judging the results of INDIA alliance in the state elections, if the situation is like this in the future, we cannot win," he told reporters yesterday.
Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the Congress could have won Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Rajasthan, but "some votes were cut by INDIA parties".
"This is the truth. We had suggested a seat-sharing arrangement. They lost because of division of votes," she told the state assembly today.
Senior Congress leader Manickam Tagore underscored the importance of alliances and said it is the state-level leaders in the Hindi heartland "who need to understand it".
"It is tough for the Congress to understand the importance of alliances because in states like MP, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan there is no alliance politics," Manickam Tagore told NDTV.
A section of party workers also confided that the party needs a new face and fresh energy in the state, where it has been led for decades by Kamal Nath and Digvijay Singh, both in their late '70s. They pointed to Telangana where a new young leader, Revanth Reddy, has crafted a massive victory.