Chief Minister Kamal Nath
Chief Minister Kamal Nath

Going, going, gone. Well, not really gone yet. But the Kamal Nath Government is gasping for breath before life is snuffed out by its own. And let us be clear. Neither Jyotiraditya Scindia, who resigned from the Congress today, nor some two dozen MLAs who resigned from the Assembly, are to blame. If anyone is to blame it is Nath. He was arrogant, cavalier and  high-handed in dealing with Scindia, an important leader of the Madhya Pradesh Congress. Instigated by his fair-weather friend Digvijay Singh, Nath set out to marginalise Scindia. Both may now be staring at wilderness while Scindia is in a pole position. After his meeting with the Prime Minister on Tuesday it is more than likely that he would find  a place in the Modi Cabinet following his election to the Rajya Sabha on the BJP ticket in the March 26th poll. Besides, the MLAs who resigned from the Assembly today most likely will fight the resulting by-elections on the BJP ticket and could be accommodated in the government which is certain to be headed by former chief minister Shivraj Singh. As Scindia suggested in his terse resignation letter to Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday, there were elements out to make him irrelevant. Matters came to a head earlier this month when Nath floated the name of Priyanka Gandhi for Rajya Sabha with the clear intention of denying Scindia the seat he had desperately set his heart on. Earlier, personal pique came through when instead of reaching out to Scindia, the chief minister arrogantly challenged him to launch the public protest against the non-fulfillment of poll promises made by the party. It was clear that Nath had decided to dump Scindia, forgetting that he himself was vulnerable, relying on a couple of footloose retail MLAs for the wafer-thin majority. With Diggi Raja playing the proverbial spoiler, Nath was pushed on the suicidal course. On Tuesday, the last rites of the 15-month-old government were performed. Of course, there will be an exchange of bitter vitriol on the role of the Governor, the Speaker, while even the courts might be sought to be dragged in. But the death of the Kamal Nath ministry is certain. Money power is not enough to buy stability for a government. Quality of leadership matters a lot. Nath mucked it up, thinking his proximity to 10 Janpath thanks to his superior skills in organising  funds for self and the party, gave him a license to ride rough shod over the ambitions of rival power centers. And let us not bring in that nonsense of party loyalty and ideology. Ashok Gehlot is chief minister in Rajasthan as long as his ambitious deputy Sachin Pilot doesn’t get ideas of his own. Every day there are pinpricks between the CM and his Deputy, the latest on the former wanting to send a moneybag to RS while the latter opposing it publicly. So Gehlot should refrain from lecturing about political morality. Pursuit of power is now considered legit. Instead, he ought to work for a change at the top in his party which is drifting into increasing irrelevance due to the incompetence and arrogance of the Gandhis.

On Tuesday morning when Scindia was denied a meeting by Her Royal Highness presiding over the crumbling debris of the Grand Old Party, he did the next best thing any honourable man would do. He sent his resignation to 10 Janpath. And such was the arrogance  that she immediately had a courtier announce his expulsion. This is no way to win friends and keep them. Arrogance has no place in decent human beings, much less in those in the business of politics. And, frankly, the sooner the Congress Party comes to terms with the faded glory of the Gandhis, the better it will be for it to be able to chalk a fresh course without the deadweight of the Family. Yes, we need a strong Congress because we need a strong Opposition against a headstrong ruling party and government. But the way the Gandhis ignored the Scindia storm despite daily warnings in the last fifteen months establishes without an iota of doubt that they are incapable of reviving the Congress Party. Meanwhile, if Diggi Raja was so solicitous of the Congress welfare, why didn’t he get out of the Rajya Sabha race and instead offer the nomination to Scindia? Nath and Scindia ganged up against him and then expected him not to fight back? References to mafia and traitors, etc., only reflect a sick mindset.

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