Another jolt for Congress? Are Kamal Nath and his son, Nakul, leaving the party?

Another jolt for Congress? Are Kamal Nath and his son, Nakul, leaving the party?

Feb 17, 2024 - 19:30
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Another jolt for Congress? Are Kamal Nath and his son, Nakul, leaving the party?

Former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath could give another jolt to the Congress. Political circles are buzzing with speculations about the exit of him and his son, Nakul Nath, from the party. The Grand Old Party has already lost heavyweights in Maharashtra this year.

While Nath and his son have not officially confirmed the reports, any such potential move just months ahead of the Lok Sabha elections will be a major setback for the Congress.

But why have rumours about the former CM and his son’s departure from the Congress come up? Let’s take a closer look.

Rumours about Kamal Nath’s defection

According to Times of India (TOI), the rumours about Nath leaving the Grand Old Party began three weeks ago. They recently picked up pace following the senior leader’s reaction about the possibility of recently expelled Congress leader Acharya Pramod Krishnam joining the BJP.

On this, Nath said on 3 February, “Everyone is independent. No one is tied to any political party.”

Three days later, his son and Chhindwara MP, Nakul Nath, declared himself the candidate from the constituency for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. However, no official announcement has been made by the Congress yet.

“This time too, I will be your candidate for Lok Sabha elections. Rumours are going around whether Kamal Nath or Nakul Nath would contest the election, I would like to make it clear that Kamal Nath won’t contest the election, I will,” Nakul Nath reportedly told a gathering on 6 February.

Chhindwara has been a stronghold of Kamal Nath for years. In the 2019 general elections, while the BJP swept 28 out of 29 seats from Madhya Pradesh, Nakul Nath managed to win on a Congress ticket from Chhindwara, noted NDTV.

Earlier this month, several leaders close to Nath, including Jabalpur Mayor Jagat Bahadur Singh ‘Annu’, switched to the BJP. On 12 February, former Congress MLA Dinesh Ahirwar and Congress district president from Vidisha, Rakesh Katare, joined the saffron party.

The speculations further intensified after Nakul dropped ‘Congress’ from his bio on social media accounts. This came a day after Madhya Pradesh BJP chief VD Sharma said the former CM and his son are welcome to join the saffron camp.

Sharma said on Friday that the BJP’s doors are open for senior Congress leaders who are upset with the party for declining the invitation to the consecration ceremony of Ayodhya’s Ram Temple.

According to Indian Express, when asked about Kamal Nath joining the BJP, Sharma told reporters: “If someone has belief in the BJP leadership and believes in its policies, for such people the doors are open… We have opened our doors to those people in the Congress who think that their party boycotted the Ram Mandir consecration event. Ram is in Bharat’s mind and Ram resides in its heart. He was insulted by the Congress. If these leaders have pain in their hearts, then they should be given an opportunity. And the name you are taking (Nath) if in his heart he has such pain, then I think he is welcome.”

Congress dismisses rumours

The Congress has rejected the rumours of Kamal Nath crossing over to the BJP.

Madhya Pradesh Congress president Jitu Patwari called the reports “baseless”. “For the first time when Kamal Nath fought elections, then Indira Gandhi said that Kamal Nath is her third son…in the 45 years of Kamal Nath’s political journey, in both our good times and bad times, he has been working with the party.

Referring to the then Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia’s revolt that toppled Nath’s state government in 2020, Patwari said that at the time “all the Congress workers stood with Kamal Nath’s leadership and ideology”.

“Can you imagine Indira Gandhi’s third son leaving Congress?” he asked the mediapersons on Saturday. Kamal Nath is among the last Congress leaders of the Indira Gandhi era.

Earlier in the day, senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh said he talked to Nath last night who was in Chhindwara. “I had a conversation with Kamal Nath ji last night. He is in Chhindwara. He is the person who started his political career with the Nehru-Gandhi family…You cannot expect that person to leave Sonia Gandhi and Indira Gandhi’s family…” ANI quoted him as saying.

Will Kamal Nath leave Congress?

Kamal Nath reached Delhi on Saturday amid the speculations. According to NDTV sources, the former MP CM will meet the BJP’s top brass. However, it is not yet known if he will join the saffron party after leaving the Congress.

His son, Nakul, is expected to join the saffron camp and get the BJP’s Lok Sabha ticket from Chhindwara, NDTV reported.

In his brief interaction with reporters after reaching the National Capital, Kamal Nath said he would inform the media first if any such thing (his joining the BJP) happens.

Earlier this month, the veteran Congress leader had said addressing the reports, “There are so many rumours going on, what can I say about them?”.

Other Congress leaders who left recently

Many high-profile leaders have quit Congress in the past few years. Nath’s exit would be a huge blow to the party as it fights the Lok Sabha elections with a weakened INDIA bloc.

Former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan recently left the Congress to join the BJP. He has been nominated by the saffron party for the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections.

Baba Siddique exited from the Congress and joined the Ajit Pawar faction of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).

The Grand Old Party saw another high-profile exit last month when former Union minister Milind Deora quit the party and switched over to the Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena. He is also nominated for Rajya Sabha polls.

Last year, former Andhra Pradesh chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy joined the BJP after resigning from the Congress.

Jyotiraditya Scindia, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Jitin Prasada, Sushmita Dev, Amarinder Singh, RPN Singh, Kapil Sibal and Sunil Jakhar are some other prominent faces that have left the Congress in recent years.

With inputs from agencies

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