Kamal Nath chosen as the new Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh
Gehlot continued to lead the race in Rajasthan until late Thursday night; Chattisgarh still dicey
After day-long meetings and marathon consultations with senior party leaders, including Sonia Gandhi, to select chief ministers for newly-won Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, with a tussle between the old and the young guard, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi late Thursday night ended the suspense as Kamal Nath was named the new Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister. There will be no deputy chief minister for the state.
Gandhi's official residence had became a revolving door on Thursday as four main chief ministerial claimants and AICC observers for the three Hindi heartland states made repeated visits to hold several rounds of discussions to assist the party president to untie the gordian knot.
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Jyotiraditya Scindia and Kamal Nath were the two top contenders for Madhya Pradesh. As hours went by without an announcement, tension and sloganeering rose on Thursday among supporters of various contenders, spilling into violence in some areas of Rajasthan.
Sachin Pilot and Ashok Gehlot, the two hopefuls for Rajasthan, appealed to the party workers to maintain peace and discipline, saying they have full faith in the party leadership and would abide by the final decision.
After briefing Gandhi, AICC in-charge of party affairs in the state Avinash Pande said, "We have given a detailed report on the views of party MLAs to the Congress president." Elected Congress MLAs in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh had passed one-line resolutions authorising Gandhi to decide on the chief minister. In Chhattisgarh, some clashes took place outside the residence of state party chief Bhupesh Baghel, who is one of the contenders apart from leader of opposition in outgoing assembly T S Singh Deo, OBC leader Tamradhwaj Sahu and veteran Charan Das Mahant.
For Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, it was a tough call between veterans like Gehlot and Nath as safer options keeping the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in mind, while others rooted for youngsters Scindia and Pilot to send across a message of change. Party sources had earlier indicated that the Congress was toying with a formula to have deputy chief ministers in these two states.
Hectic parleys also continued till late Thursday evening among top party leaders for deciding the chief minister for Chhattisgarh. "We are checking, taking inputs from different people in the party. We are taking inputs from MLAs and workers. We are getting a comprehensive answer to what the Congress party and others feel," Gandhi had said. He had sought views of party workers through an internal messaging system asking for their views.
Mallya applauds Pilot, Scindia
Embattled liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya, who has been ordered to be extradited to India by a UK court, on Thursday congratulated Congress leaders Sachin Pilot and Jyotiraditya Scindia over the party's wins in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh assembly polls, through a post on Twitter, calling them "young champions".
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