BJP ‘Maha Kumbh’ turnout disappointing

L.S. Herdenia

The BJP-sponsored ‘Maha Kumbh’ on 25th September was indeed a huge affair. There are varied claims about the turnout. BJP claims that more than five lakh party men came. Originally it has fixed a target of ten lakh. But despite its best efforts, the target could not be achieved. One of the factors which came in the way of achieving the target was the refusal of bus operators to make buses available. They refused to lend buses because they are already owed crores of rupees for carrying people to various programmes.
Narendra Modi was the star attraction for the crowd. He along with party chief Amit Shah reached the venue by helicopter. Modi chose the occasion to launch a frontal attack on Congress and Rahul Gandhi in particular. In his 40-minute speech, Modi said that Congress had been reduced to 44 from the record 400-plus seats and was now seeking alliance outside India as it had failed to do so within the country.
His statements apparently referred to the Congress’ repeated attacks on the Narendra Modi government in the context of the controversial Rafale fighter jet deal and Pakistan leaders saying that Congress president Rahul Gandhi would be the next PM of India after the 2019 general elections.
Perhaps happy over the massive mobilisation, Modi showered generous praise on Shivraj Singh Chouhan, almost assuring him a fourth term as chief minister of Madhya Pradesh. Praising Chouhan, he said that under his leadership MP had topped in sanitation, farming and roads. Shivraj is ‘jan sevak’, he added.
Expecting massive turnout the party had to bring chairs from the neighbouring states. Ten huge tents had been erected as dining halls with the capacity to serve meals to 20,000 party workers at the same time. The menu was as rich as worthy of Baratis (members of marriage party).
Besides Modi and Amit Shah, Chouhan and Uma Bharti also addressed the gathering. Coming back strongly at Rahul Gandhi for his comment during his recent Bhopal visit, the chief minister said that he might be a ‘ghoshana machine’ but Rahul was a ‘fun machine’. Rahul considered the country to be a source of ‘entertainment’ and politics a ‘spectacle’, he added.
Addressing the party workers, Amit Shah Shah said that BJP was all set to form its government in the state for the fourth consecutive term and the Congress dream of coming to power will not be fulfilled. Shah said that Madhya Pradesh is BJP’s heart and soul and Congress should forget about winning here. BJP has become so strong that it has been successful in forming governments even in those states where it had never managed to win a single seat in the past, he asserted.
The presence of Uma Bharti and Babulal Gaur, both former chief ministers, on the dais came as a surprise to everyone. Uma Bharati, who was instrumental in ousting the Digvijaya Singh government and leading BJP to a win in 2003, has rarely shared a public platform with the chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and party functionaries in the recent past.
Putting all speculations to rest, Uma said she had come on the personal invite by Shivraj Singh Chouhan “On getting the invite I called up the chief minister and said whether my presence would help the party in Madhya Pradesh, as I am a member of Parliament from Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh. He told me it will help the party so I decided to come”.
She seized the occasion to remind the party workers and leaders that in 2003 BJP won the maximum number of 173 out of 230 assembly seats.
Babulal Gaur was not given any prominence in the party programmes after he was asked to step down as chief minister. Modi while shaking hands with Gaur commented, “Gaur abki baar aur” (Gaur another term to you). Gaur, 88, has expressed his desire to contest the assembly elections.
Despite the high profile show, Congress launched a blistering attack on the BJP by describing it as totally supported by the government. The event also received a helping hand from the BJP-controlled Bhopal Corporation. It was alleged that the Municipal Corporation bought drinking water, including water pouches and bottles, at a cost of Rs. 53 lakh for the Maha Kumbh. It has been reported that Rs. 15 lakh was spent on procuring buckets and mugs. (IPA)

Thursday, 4 October, 2018