Kamal Nath, Indira Gandhi’s “third son” becomes MP chief minister

Kamal Nath, the senior-most member in the 16th Lok Sabha (it’s his ninth term), has been chosen as the new chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, something that seemed very much likely when he was named the head of state Congress unit in April.

Nath is a veteran politician and perhaps the most prominent Gandhi family loyalist today. When he was named the Congress chief in Madhya Pradesh, many in the party recalled that former prime minister Indira Gandhi described him as her “third son” who helped her take on the Morarji Desai-led regime in 1979.

Outgoing state PCC chief Arun Yadav said in a speech that Nath was regarded as former PM Indira Gandhi’s third son. Congress leaders claim that Indira Gandhi herself affectionately mentioned many times that she had three sons – Rajeev Gandhi, Sanjay Gandhi and Kamal Nath.

Born in kanpur in 1946 in a business family, Nath went to the famous Doon School which later brought him proximity to the Gandhi family. He was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 1980.

The seventh Lok Sabha had a group of young MPs including Nath who were criticised by the opposition as “Sanjay ke chokre” (Sanjay Gandhi’s boys). A slogan from those days revealed the importance of Nath among the Gandhi family loyalists: “Indira Gandhi ke do haath, Sanjay Gandhi, Kamal Nath”.

“From the years 1977 to 1980, it was thought that Indira Gandhi would never return to power. We used to go to jail. When Indira Gandhi went to jail, Kamal Nath also went to jail. When Sanjay Gandhi went to jail, so did I,” Nath recalled while addressing party workers congregation soon after taking charge as state Congress head.

The Doon tag brought Nath close to Rajiv Gandhi and when the young Prime Minister faced a major challenge from V P Singh in 1987, Kamal Nath moved in as one of his close advisors. Pragmatic and endowed with a talent for easy adaptability, he survived the Narasimha Rao years at the helm of the environment ministry with as much skill as commerce in later years.

In 2008, Nath was honoured with the title “Business Reformer of the year” by The Economic Times. Nath also serves as president of the board of governors for The Institute of Management Technology (IMT). Ghaziabad.

Kamal Nath has been often accused of leading mobs during the anti-Sikh riots in 1984 but he has denied the accusations.

Nath’s tactic to present the Congress as a party that promotes Hindu causes might have been one important reason behind the party’s victory in the state. Nath wrote an “open letter” to Lord Shiva, seeking his blessings for the people to end the BJP’s “misrule” in the state. He promised of building a cow shelter each in the state’s 23,026 gram panchayats if the party is elected to power. He had already built a 101.8-foot Lord Hanuman statue, among the tallest in the country, near Chhindwara, his own constituency.

Source: The Economic Times