New Delhi: The tussle for the chief minister’s chair ended in Madhya Pradesh late on Thursday night with Congress chief Rahul Gandhi picking veteran warhorse Kamal Nath for the top post, even as hectic parleys continued for Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.
Sources said the Congress decided to defer the decision after Rahul Gandhi decided to hold further discussions with leaders, even as top contenders for the desert state, Sachin Pilot and Ashok Gehlot met Gandhi for the second time late on Thursday night. Chhattisgarh — where TS Singh Deo was considered almost finalised for the top post — was again thrown into a limbo after Bhupesh Baghel and Charan Das Mahant were also asked to reach Delhi on Friday.
Amid the political drama, Pilot supporters took to the streets in Rajasthan, demanding that he be crowned the chief minister. Party workers blocked a road in Karauli and also burnt tyres in support of Pilot. Sources also said the young leader was unrelenting in his demand for the CM's position, thought the party rubbished rumours and tried to put up a united house.
The MLAs in Chhattisgarh also met late evening in Raipur in presence of the party's central observer Mallikarjun Kharge. There are as many four names doing the round for the state chief minister post -- Lok Sabha member Tamradhwaj Sahu, state party chief Bhupesh Baghel, leader of opposition in the outgoing assembly T S Singhdeo and senior leader Charandas Mahant.
The legislature party meeting in Jaipur lasted for almost seven hours, while Bhopal and Raipur also saw long-running meetings. Central observers A K Antony for Madhya Pradesh and K C Venugopal for Rajasthan took the opinion of newly-elected MLAs, party leaders said.
Senior party leaders in the national capital said the meetings of MLAs and authorising the party chief is part of an established process within the party for selecting the chief ministers.
Belying predictions of exit polls, the Congress won convincingly in Chattisgarh, less so in Rajasthan, and scraped through with a wafer-thin lead in Madhya Pradesh, final results showed after the vote count on Tuesday.
The Congress emerged as the single-largest party in Rajasthan in Tuesday's vote count, winning 99 seats. Its ally Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) won one seat for a total of 100 seats -- the required number to form government. The BJP got 73 seats, and the Bahujan Samaj Party won 6 seats. BSP leader Mayawati on Wednesday pledged support for the Congress. The CPI(M) got two seats, Independents won 13 and other parties got 6, according to the state Election Commission.
The Congress victory in Chhattisgarh ended the 15-year rule of the Raman Singh-led Bharatiya Janata Party government. It won 68 seats in the 90-member Assembly, while the BJP got only 15 seats. A party needs to win 46 seats to form government in the state. The Congress got 43 per cent of the total votes polled in the state, while the BJP got 33 per cent.
After a see-saw battle on Tuesday, Congress emerged as the single largest party in Madhya Pradesh with 114 seats, two short of a simple majority. The BJP, which had ruled the state for 15 years, got 109 seats.
In Mumbai, NCP chief Sharad Pawar said the Assembly election results mark the "beginning of a change" and a "rejection" of the BJP-led government's policies. The Shiv Sena, an ally of the BJP at the Centre and in Maharashtra, said people have brought "those flying in the air back to the ground".