- Supporters of Jyotiraditya Scindia have launched a poster campaign
- Supporters of Digvijaya Singh burnt effigies of rival Umang Singhar
- The Congress, however, maintains everything is alright
The internal feud in Madhya Pradesh's ruling Congress has escalated from a war of words between leaders of the three main camps to a street-fight. Supporters of Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia have launched a poster campaign for making him the chief of the party's state unit while supporters of former Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh burnt effigies of rival Umang Singhar for the second day in Bhopal on Thursday.
Despite Chief Minister Kamal Nath, (and also the current state Congress president) and national general secretary Deepak Babaria's instructions to party workers and leaders to maintain discipline in front of the media, the bitter feud particularly among supporters of different camps continues.
In a state where vicious factionalism was widely blamed for keeping the Congress out of power for the last 15 years, the three major camps owing allegiance to former Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh, Chief Minister Kamal Nath and former union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia continue to pull the ruling party in different directions.
On Monday, Umang Singhar, the state Forest Minister, had hit out at Digvijaya Singh for asking for a meeting with ministers to discuss work he wanted done, and accused him of "running the government from behind the curtain".
He called Digvijaya Singh a "blackmailer involved in illegal mining and liquor trade rackets in the state" and said the CBI should investigate him. Mr Scindia said the allegations he had raised "should be heard by the Chief Minister".
The verbal attack by Mr Singhar, which continued for three days, was followed by supporters of Digvijaya Singh, including cabinet minister PC Sharma responding in an identical tone. Mr Singh's another supporter Aidal Singh Kansana, the powerful leader from Gwalior-Chambal region even demanded that the Chief Minister sack Scindia-loyalist ministers - Umang Singhar, Imarti Devi, Govind Singh Rajput and Pradyumn Singh Tomar.
The factionalism has not remained confined to the three major camps. Internal differences seem to have even emerged among Scindia loyalists, after Gohad MLA Ranveer Jatav and Ambah MLA Kamlesh Jatav accused Health Minister Tulsi Silawat and his family of corruption. Mr Silawat, who didn't react to the allegations, too is seen as one of Mr Scindia's loyalist ministers.
Beneath the latest row is the larger dispute over a state Congress chief. While Kamal Nath retains the post even after taking over as Chief Minister following the Congress's return to power in the state in December after 15 years, Mr Scindia has said that a new chief must be appointed.
There have been unconfirmed reports that the 47-year-old has threatened to quit the Congress if he was not made Madhya Pradesh chief, and also had a meeting with BJP leaders.
The Congress, however, maintains everything is alright. "There is nothing disturbing within the party and reports of infighting and factionalism are being created by the BJP to defame the party and government," the party's media chief in Madhya Pradesh Shobha Oza said.
But state BJP spokesperson Rahul Kothari countered her. "Since this government came to power with the help of independents and MLAs of other parties, turf war among the ministers and MLAs of different camps is for all to see. BJP has nothing to do with it, as factionalism has always been part and parcel of Congress."