BJP's 'Operation Chhindwara' started after MP Assembly poll results

Bhopal, June 11 BJP's operation to wrest Chhindwara, the last stronghold of Congress in Madhya Pradesh, had begun six months ago after the grand old party suffered an embarrassing defeat under the leadership of former Chief Minister Kamal Nath.

Kamal Nath, who had brought the Congress back into power (2018) in Madhya Pradesh six months after he was sent from Delhi. He has full control over the state party unit, however, a loss in the Assembly polls weakened his position in the party.

IANS spoke to several people, including from Chhindwara, and a few of them who worked in Kamal Nath's team during the Assembly (2018, 2023) and Lok Sabha election concluded recently, and they were of the view that after the Assembly loss, he (Kamal Nath) was left alone and helpless.

However, the post-Lok Sabha results drama from Bhopal to New Delhi -- rumours about his possible shifting to the BJP, dented his credibility especially when the political circles were abuzz that Rahul Gandhi was upset with Kamal Nath and the latter did not have much say in the party like in the past.

This particular period came as a crucial moment for the BJP to corner Kamal Nath, who till then already had been replaced with Jitu Patwari as the state unit chief.

Returning to power with 163 of the 230 Assembly seats and finding Kamal Nath struggling to get a place in his party, the BJP started tightening its grip on his stronghold Chhindwara.

"BJP destroyed Kamal Nath's base in Chhindwara ruthlessly. They first snatched ground-level workers and then trusted allies. In most of the Assembly constituencies, the entire team, which was working for Kamal Nath was snatched by the BJP. We could not find a replacement for the team broken by BJP," said a person associated with Kamal Nath's team on condition of anonymity.

He also claimed that the disloyalty of top Congress leaders did not have much effect on the ground as their credibility was questioned after they joined the BJP, but the shifting of ground-level Congress workers in chunk dented a lot.

Former MLA Deepak Saxena, a loyalist of Kamal Nath, who had even resigned as MLA for Nath in 2019 from the Chhindwara Parliamentary constituency, had shifted to the BJP ahead of the recently concluded Lok Sabha election, accusing Nakul Nath of disrespecting senior allies of his father Kamal Nath.

Saxena then said that his loyalty would remain with Kamal Nath, but he would not support his son Nakul Nath, who does not know even how to behave with senior party leaders.

Chhindwara Mayor, Vikram Ahakey, for whom Kamal Nath had campaigned during the Municipal elections in 2022, had also disassociated with him in the middle of the campaign for the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections.

However, on polling day (April 19), Ahakey in a viral video was heard appealing to people to support Kamal Nath.

Former journalist Piyush Bable, who is in charge of public relations in Kamal Nath's office, claimed the Nath family was left alone to fight the election.

"He (Kamal Nath) did not get any support from the state or Central leadership of Congress. But, Kamal Nath kept pushing, saying that he had full faith in the people of Chhindwara, which was the only hope for all of us."

Asked why Kamal Nath did not come out to campaign for other Congress candidates even when the polling in Chhindwara was conducted in the first phase on April 19, Bable said, "No one has approached him."

Responding to the buzz that losing Chhindwara to the BJP may be the end of Kamal Nath's politics, Bable added, "The person who has been involved in politics for more than 50 years, and has seen many ups and downs, one loss is not going to affect him."

Kamal Nath had represented the Chhindwara Lok Sabha seat nine times, while his wife Alka Nath and son Nakul Nath each once.

Nakul was the only Congress MP from Madhya Pradesh in the previous term of the Lok Sabha, however, he lost in 2024 to BJP's Vivek Banti Sahu.

Source: IANS
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