- Kamal Nath picked to lead Congress campaign for Madhya Pradesh polls
- Gets top job over the younger Jyotiraditya Scindia
- Party believed he has greater shot at 'carrying everyone along': Sources
The selection process started with a meeting at Rahul Gandhi's Delhi home six months ago. "Nothing was happening in the state... We agreed that we needed a change of leadership," Mr Nath told NDTV, referring to then state unit chief Arun Yadav. "We" referred to Digvijaya Singh, Mr Nath's frenemy and a two-time chief minister of the state, who had not started his Parikrama tour of holy sites at the time, and frenemy number 2 Jyotiraditya Scindia.
The Congress in Madhya Pradesh has been dominated for decades by Digvijaya Singh and Kamal Nath. Jyotiraditya Scindia, the son of the late Madhavrao Scindia, is the third. They all command their own loyal followers who have been known in the past to work against each other.
Welcoming the central leadership's choice, Digvijay Singh told NDTV that he had "voluntarily opted out". That started the race between 71-year-old Mr Nath - a nine-time parliamentarian with 37 years' experience -- and the dynamic but younger ex-royal.
Sources told NDTV that Kamal Nath was chosen as while 47-year-old Jyotiraditya Scindia was more popular with the people, the former had a greater chance of carrying everyone along.
The two spoke a few days before the announcement. "We said we would work together," Mr Nath confirmed. While visitors and callers jammed Kamal Nath's home and phone lines today, Mr Scindia is yet to call. "He is out of town. We will speak soon," Mr Nath assured.
The choice of Kamal Nath comes as an assurance to the party's old guard that though Rahul Gandhi may be close to young leaders like Jyotiraditya Scindia and Sachin Pilot, he will take a considered decision. "That's what he said in the plenary as well -- to take everyone along and he named me specifically," Mr Nath said.
As the elections come around, that's the key for the Congress. Will they get everyone working together for the same goal this time around? "He is the best choice as he is the most experienced," said parliamentarian from Madhya Pradesh Vivek Tankha. "Everyone will work under his experience," he added.
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