Kamal Nath In Madhya Pradesh, Contest Not Over In Rajasthan: Sources

Kamal Nath In Madhya Pradesh, Contest Not Over In Rajasthan: Sources

NEW DELHI: Rahul Gandhi is expected to take a call on chief ministers in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan today after a meeting with two pairs of leaders fighting for the top job. Kamal Nath is likely to be named chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, where the party won a narrow victory in state polls, emerging as the largest party but touching majority only with support from Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

Jyotiraditya Scindia, who reportedly also wants the job, is likely to be offered the post of deputy. While Kamal Nath, 72, is the state chief, Mr Scindia's argument is that he has popular support. When NDTV asked him yesterday whether he would like to be chief minister, the 47-year-old replied: "Absolutely, I would be honoured to serve as chief minister."

In Rajasthan the Congress is confronting a tougher choice between state chief Sachin Pilot and two-time chief minister Ashok Gehlot, 67.

Sources say Ashok Gehlot, an experienced warhorse, has emerged as the front-runner for party leaders with an eye on the 2019 national election, but Sachin Pilot, credited with recharging the Congress in Rajasthan after its poorest show in state polls in 2013, is putting up a fight.

Sources say two-thirds of the 99 newly-elected Congress lawmakers in Rajasthan, in a six-hour meeting, conveyed to the central leadership that they want Sachin Pilot, the 41-year-old state Congress head, to be chief minister.

Sources say the Congress is weighing a formula that will keep both leaders happy, since it is the combined strength of both that has brought the party this far. Such a formula may involve positioning one leader in Delhi for a national role, leaving the other to manage Rajasthan.

Rahul Gandhi's audio message to 2.4 lakh Congress workers, urging them to reveal to him - "after this beep" - their choice of chief minister in complete confidence, reflects the party's challenging task after scoring poll victories in three big heartland states.

On Tuesday, the Congress president had said there would be "no issue" over chief ministership. "It will be done smoothly," he had said, in contrast to the intense lobbying that had already begun on the night of counting.