OBC Leader Jitu Patwari, the new chief of the Madhya Pradesh Congress, has replaced Kamal Nath.

The Congress has chosen to keep Deepak Baij in his position as head of the state unit despite the defeat in Chhattisgarh.

Jitu Patwari, an OBC leader, has succeeded senior Congress leader and former chief minister Kamal Nath as the state unit chief, following the party’s crushing defeat in the Madhya Pradesh elections a few days ago.
The selection of Mr. Patwari, who lost by a margin of over 35,000 votes to a BJP candidate for the Sau Assembly seat, is thought to be the party’s attempt to start over in the vital heartland state ahead of the crucial Lok Sabha elections, which are less than four months away. OBCs make up over 50% of voters in Madhya Pradesh.

Following Mr. Patwari’s nomination, conjecture has been swirling around the political destiny of Kamal Nath, a 77-year-old minister in the Union Cabinet, a nine-time member of the Lok Sabha, and the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh for roughly fifteen months. After senior leader Jyotiraditya Scindia’s mutiny in 2020, he was forced to retire from his position as chief minister, despite having served as the Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee president for more than five years.

Held on November 17, this year’s elections saw the BJP win 163 seats in the 230-member Assembly, while the Congress, which has ruled Madhya Pradesh for almost 20 years, secured only 66 seats. However, the Congress has chosen to keep Deepak Baij in his position as head of the state unit despite the defeat in Chhattisgarh.

Caste Calculus

Umang Singhar, who will lead the opposition in the Assembly, has also been named by the party as the Congress Legislative Party leader in Madhya Pradesh. Hemant Katare has been chosen as the deputy leader.
In addition to bringing about a generational shift, the choices are noteworthy because they demonstrate the Congress’s attempt at caste balancing. An OBC leader has taken Kamal Nath’s place in Jitu Patwari, a Brahmin leader. Tribal Umang Singhar was the nephew of the late Jamuna Devi, a former deputy chief minister who sat in the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha and represented the state.

It’s possible that Hemant Katare’s name was chosen with the intention of keeping the Brahmin community’s support when Kamal Nath was replaced. After defeating BJP politician Arvind Singh Bhadoria, the minister of cooperatives for Madhya Pradesh, by more than 69,000 votes, Katare was dubbed a “giant killer”. A statement released by the Congress announced the nominations, stating, “The Congress president has appointed Shri Jitu Patwari as the president of Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee, with immediate effect.”

“The party appreciates the contributions of outgoing PCC president, Shri Kamal Nath,” said the statement.

Deepak Baij will continue as the state unit leader of the Congress, which has opted to stick with him in Chhattisgarh, although the party only managed to win 35 seats out of 90 assembly members, against the BJP’s 54. It has named Charan Das Mahant, a former speaker of the Chhattisgarh Assembly, as the leader of the Congress Legislative Party. The OBC leader Mr. Mahant defeated Khilawan Sahu of the BJP by a margin of more than 12,000 votes in this year’s elections, which were conducted in two stages on November 7 and November 17. This allowed him to keep the Sakti seat.

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