Madhya Pradesh Congress President Kamal Nath has told The Indian Express that his party will focus on improving the state’s fiscal health and exposing the prime minister for his policies such as the Goods and Services Tax regime and demonetisation. Nath, a nine-time Lok Sabha MP from Chhindwara, is among the front-runners for the post of chief minister after the Congress emerged the single-largest party in the Assembly elections held recently.
“I am worried about the fiscal health of Madhya Pradesh and we will have to do some innovative out-of-the box thinking on how resources can be raised for the state,” Nath said in the interview published on Thursday. “We will have to do something new since there has been such a drain on resources.”
Congress President Rahul Gandhi is expected to announce his choice for the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh later on Thursday. Guna MP Jyotiraditya Scindia is another probable contender. The new chief minister will succeed Shivraj Singh Chouhan of the Bharatiya Janata Party, which had been in power for 15 years.
Final results of the Assembly elections in the state were declared on Wednesday morning. The Congress won 114 seats, while the BJP got 109 – both parties were short of the majority mark of 116. Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party have offered support to the Congress, which will help them cross the half-way mark.
“We will expose the prime minister, both at the state and national level,” Nath said in the interview. “For instance, we will campaign against the kind of GST he has brought in. And the mishandling of demonetisation which has badly hit small businessmen and traders.” The senior Congress leader also claimed that Modi’s confidence levels have visibly diminished. “Plus, people are seeing that the CBI is now divided, the RBI is divided, the entire society has been divided by the Modi government.”
Nath said he had not seen the Assembly elections as a “semi-final” ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, and claimed that the BJP’s loss was inevitable. “We ended 15 years of misrule of the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government,” he said. “We had seen the resentment against the government build up in every section of society. The defeat had to happen.”
The close race was because of the saffron party’s “organisational might” and alleged money power, Nath said. “We were pushed back by the massive publicity campaign launched by the BJP and the state government,” the senior Congress leader added. “Huge budgets were used and the media was part of this lavish spending.”
Nath said the Congress wants “a firm national alliance with other parties who want the BJP to be ousted”. Besides Madhya Pradesh, the Congress won a clear majority in Chhattisgarh and was the single-largest party in Rajasthan. The party finished just two short of the majority mark, at 99, in Rajasthan, with the BJP winning 73 seats. In Chhattisgarh, the Congress won 68 seats and the saffron party 15.