The irony is not lost.
In 2020, Kamal Nath lost his government in Madhya Pradesh to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) ‘Operation Kamal’, with much help from his bête noire Jyotiraditya Scindia.
Today, as yet another Congress coalition government in Maharashtra is in trouble, Nath has been roped in as the troubleshooter and observer by party chief Sonia Gandhi to try and save the government.
It reveals the few options left before the Congress top leadership as far as troubleshooters go.
Nath shares good equations with most Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leaders like Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel, having been their cabinet colleagues in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. This apart, he has good equations with chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and perhaps the only one from among the senior Congress leaders who is more likely to be heard.
In fact, with the demise of Pranab Mukherjee and Ahmed Patel, Gandhi has been looking for that one leader who can ensure crisis management.
He belongs to one of the oldest tribes of Congress leaders and is likely to be heard more than say a KC Venugopal, who is a relatively newer entrant to Delhi politics.
The last time a SOS call went to Kamal Nath was during the sudden resignation of Navjot Singh Sidhu. And also during the exit of Captain Amarinder Singh. Nath and Captain have been old friends from the Sanjay Gandhi days. But Nath could not prevail upon both Gandhi and Captain to find an amicable meeting point. In case of Sidhu’s resignation, Nath had to ensure that things were sorted soon, as this was proving to be embarrassing, considering Sidhu was handpicked by Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra.
Earlier, when the ‘rebellion’ broke out in Rajasthan, it was once again Nath who had stepped in to ensure the Gehlot government was intact and also both Gehlot and Sachin Pilot were placated.
Nath is not without his detractors. First, Rahul Gandhi is not believed to be very comfortable with him, although both Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka have faith in his abilities.
When the MP government fell and when Scindia joined the BJP, Nath and his coterie were blamed.
In fact, when the seasoned beta was chosen to be the CM of MP, many said he won’t be able to handle state politics, as he was too much of a “Delhi durbar neta”.
Time proved these critics right.
But the faith the Gandhis have in him shows through his appointment.
Will the wily, shrewd master strategist manage to do in Maharashtra what he couldn’t in his state?