Bhopal: As the state waits for the EVMs to unburden themselves on December 11, who would be the next chief minister is, by far, the second most important question after which party would win the polls.
From political pundits to the pan wallahs, everyone has his own take on the twin issues. With the exit polls predicting either a photo-finish or slender majorities for the two key contenders, the interest in the next chief ministerial face for the state has peaked.
The point is that in case the BJP makes it past the finishing line, Shivraj Singh Chouhan – lord of all the surveys in the state BJP, with no rivals in sight – is certain to head its government. However, the situation is just the opposite in the Congress. Its barat, as Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh pointed out, is without a dulha or with many dulhas, if you will.
Here is a lowdown on the wannabe Congress chief ministers:
Kamal Nath, 72
The veteran Parliamentarian would, justifiably, claim the credit for the Congress victory if it comes about. He would have accomplished the mission he was sent on by the party high command in May this year to end the Congress’s exile from power. In fact, it was due to the systematic groundwork of Nath that the Congress could emerge as serious claimant for power in the state. He has rich ministerial experience, is close to the first family of the party and is a seasoned politician.
Jyotiraditya Scindia, 47
The young (by Indian political standards) scion of the Scindia family heads the state Congress campaign committee and commands awesome influence in the Gwalior-Chambal region of the state. Suave and soft-spoken, he is considered a blue-eyed boy of AICC chief Rahul Gandhi and is untainted by scams. The way the BJP targeted him in the run-up to the polls (Maaf karo Maharaj) shows that even the rival party considers him a front-runner for CM post.
Digvijaya Singh, 71
The wily Thakur is known for always having an ace up his kurta sleeve. He may not be in the good books of the Congress chief but to write him off would be a mistake. That he managed to win tickets for three of his family members indicates that he may be down, but definitely not out. He worked hard in the run-up to the polls, mollifying a rebel here, settling a factional dispute there. On the flip side, his ‘Shriman Bantadhar’ image may become a stumbling block.
Ajay Singh, 63
‘Rahul Bhaiya’ is hardly a patch on his late father, Arjun Singh, who was an ace manipulator of power politics and was widely described as the Chanakya of Indian politics. However, as the leader of the Congress contingent in the outgoing Vidhan Sabha, Ajay Singh is a natural claimant for the top post. That he is a close confidante and also a relative of Digvijaya Singh adds to his weight. Sometimes, dark horses do win the race. Singh has a fat chance for taking the esteemed post.