Congress bid to tone up MP unit

L.S. Herdenia

It was the biggest show of strength by the Congress after it lost power in 2003. More than fifty thousand party workers were arrested on February 22 when they tried to march towards the Vidhan Sabha which they declared they wanted to "gherao". But the Congress spokesman K.K. Mishra claimed that more than a lakh party workers were expected to join the demonstration but about fifty thousand could not reach Bhopal because they were stopped by the police at the five entry points on some or other excuse. Party workers started reaching Bhopal from early morning. More than a thousand reached the residence of the PCC Chief Arun Yadav, at 5 am. The spokesman claimed that the massive show was the result of the united efforts made by all the important leaders of the party.
They included former union minister Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia and former chief minister and AICC general secretary Digvijaya Singh. It was claimed through this massive demonstration, the state Congress sounded the bugle for the assembly elections with an impressive demonstration to protest the 'misgovernance' of the BJP government which was joined by all top leaders. Addressing the demonstrators, the party leaders lashed out at the state government alleging that it was corrupt to the core and was giving shelter to ISI agents.
The party had announced that it would lay a siege on the Vidhan Sabha but the cops did not allow the demonstrations to proceed towards the assembly. They courted arrest and were taken to a temporary jail. The process of their formal arrest and release continued till past mid night at the Nehru Nagar Police Ground. Most important speeches were made by Kamal Nath, Scindia and Divijaya Singh.
Kamal Nath, who is reportedly going to play a big role in the 2018 assembly elections, began his speech by promising to waive farmers' power and loan dues. "This crowd that has gathered hasn't been brought here. They came on their own not for favours but because farmers, youth, labourers, businessmen, state employees, Dalits and tribals are harassed and distraught with the BJP government. When Congress comes to power, we will waive all loans and electricity bills of farmers," he said. The state has been "destroyed and auctioned" in the last 13 years, he alleged, "just as Narendra Modi has engaged the country in 'kalakari ki rajniti (politics of deception)' in the last two-and-half years, he alleged. "For 12 years, the state government has been organising investor summits. How much investment has come to MP?" he asked.
The Scindia scion used the PM's 'raincoat' barb to hit back at him. "Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a statement in Parliament that Congress wears raincoats under the shower. My advice to him is that people living in glass houses should not throw stones. If the PM comes to Madhya Pradesh, there are so many scams here that he would have to wear an iron raincoat when he is in the shower," Jyotiraditya Scindia said. "The way farmers love their fields, BJP loves sand from Narmada. Police stay away from all those dumpers that have a particular symbol inscribed on them. Don't think the CM is out on Narmada Seva Yatra – he is on Narendra Survey Yatra. Din mein bhraman aur raat ko utkhanan (travel by day and mining by night). BJP ke sashan main, ret bhi milegi ration mein (in BJP rule, sand will be distributed under PDS)." 
Perhaps most blistering attack was made by Digvijay Singh. In his usual aggressive self at the rally as he fired salvo after salvo at CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan. "If Congress workers decide to track the BJP chief minister, his family, ministers' involvement in corruption, then we will take the evidence to the assembly, courts and to the people. Half of these corrupt persons will then be in jail. In Vyapam, former higher education minister Laxmikant Sharma became the scapegoat and was sent to jail. But the people who made him commit the irregularities are still eating cream," he said. He pointed out that Sundarlal Patwa, Uma Bharti and Vikram Verma had levelled corruption charges against him but could not prove their allegations in 13 years. "Today I allege at my personal level that Chouhan and his family are involved in Vyapam scam, illegal sand mining and mid-day meal irregularities. I dare the CM to file a defamation suit and take me to court if he can." He thundered.
While the rank and file of the Congress responded in a big way, the show of unity among top leaders appeared to be cosmetic. The city, particularly areas around the venue of the public meeting were overflowing with hoardings. But most of the hoardings were individualistic. A few were such which showed all the factional leaders together. The biggest numbers of hoardings were that of Scindia and second were that of Kamal Nath.
There were only a few hoardings of Digvijaya Singh. Similarly, there were only a few hoardings of PCC chief Arun Yadav. Commenting on this, State BJP chief Nan Kumar Singh Chauhan said that it was not the Congress rally but it was a joint rally of Congress leaders. 
There were two such events which were not liked by the ordinary Congress workers. One such event was the visit of Digvijaya Singh, Kamal Nath and Scindia to the residence of Govind Goyal, arch rival of PCC chief Arun Yadav. Not only they visited Goyal's residence but had sumptuous breakfast there.
Another episode related to total neglect of Arif Aqueel senior Congress MLA from Bhopal. More than five times MLA, he is not only lone Muslim member of the Congress legislature party but also lone Muslim member of the 230-member MP Vidhan Sabha. (IPA)

Tuesday, 28 February, 2017