Kamal Nath: 'Indira Gandhi's Third Son' And 'Congress Loyalist' To Join BJP?

Kamal Nath's ties with the Gandhi family date back to his school days, which he spent with former MP Sanjay Gandhi, at the Doon School in Dehradun.


Kamal Nath campaigns for party's mayoral candidate

Senior Congress leader Kamal Nath, who has an over 50 year-association with the grand old party, may soon jump ship and join the BJP, along with his MP son Nakul Nath, according to media reports. While official confirmation is still pending, Kamal Nath’s exit will come as another setback for the Congress ahead of Lok Sabha elections – just six days ago, former CM Ashok Chavan quit Congress to join BJP.

Amid speculation about him crossing over to the BJP, the senior Nath arrived in New Delhi on Saturday afternoon and said if there would be any such thing, he would inform the media first and asked them not to get excited. Meanwhile, around half a dozen Madhya Pradesh MLAs loyal to Nath also reached Delhi on Sunday.


Kamal Nath's political career

An astute politician who had worked with three generations of the Gandhi family, Kamal Nath joined the Youth Congress in the 1970s. His ties with the Gandhi family date back to his school days, which he spent with former MP Sanjay Gandhi, at the Doon School in Dehradun. In 1979, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had described him as her 'third son' -- which gave rise to the slogan "Indira ke do haath, Sanjay Gandhi aur Kamal Nath". 

It is widely believed that Nath was rewarded with the Chhindwara seat in Madhya Pradesh in the 1980 Lok Sabha polls due to his friendship with Sanjay. After that, he was elected to Lok Sabha nine times from the same constituency.


He held several portfolios including Environment and Forests and Textiles in the PV Narasimha Rao government (1921-2004), Commerce and Industry under UPA in 2004-09, and Road Transport and Highways, Urban Development and Parliamentary Affairs under UPA-II. It was in 2018 when he was appointed as the Congress chief in Madhya Pradesh. 

When Kamal Nath’s government fell 

After the Congress party’s emphatic win in the 2018 Assembly Elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rahul Gandhi appointed Kamal Nath as the Chief Minister, a move that proved to be a significant setback for Gwalior royal Jyotiraditya Scindia, who had consistently supported Gandhi and been a member of the Indian National Congress for 18 years.

However, after barely 15 months of being in office, Kamal Nath’s government fell when 22 Congress MLAs loyal to Jyotiraditya Scindia resigned from the grand old party and switched over to the saffron camp. The BJP formed the government with Shivraj Singh Chouhan returning as chief minister for the fourth time. However, Kamal Nath “stood behind the Congress like a rock during the bad patch,” Madhya Pradesh Congress chief Jitu Patwari said on Saturday amid buzz of the senior leader’s switch.


The senior Congress leader has hardly stayed out of a controversy. He was accused of peddling soft Hindutva when he invited Baba Bageshwar to his constituency, Chhindwara, who was known for seeking “Hindu Rashtra” and holding “Ghar Wapsi” events, in 2023. Responding to these claims, Kamal Nath in an interview with Outlook’s Abhik Bhattacharya had said: Religion is a matter of culture, faith and personal sentiment, not a matter of political campaign.


In another controversy in 2022, Nath cut a four-tier temple-shaped cake on top of which there was a saffron flag and an image of lord Hanuman, during his birthday celebrations. In a tweet that came immediately after Nath’s video went viral, CM Chouhan wrote, “He [Kamal Nath] and his party are false devotees, who have nothing to do with God. He represents the same party that once opposed the construction of Ram Temple. But on realising that it was damaging them electorally, he turned into a Hanuman Bhakt.”

Whether the allegations of soft Hindutva were true or not, it did not work as an election gimmick as the Congress managed to win just 66 seats in the assembly elections held last year. Following this drubbing, Nath was replaced as the party's Madhya Pradesh unit chief by Patwari.