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Loser bristles before Shivraj big day

Bhopal, Dec. 10: Shivraj Singh Chouhan will take oath as Madhya Pradesh chief minister for the third time on December 14, with Narendra Modi as the guest of honour.

Chouhan has sent an invite for his swearing-in to many captains of industry, including Anil Ambani and Kumar Mangalam Birla, and to top BJP leaders L.K. Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley. The venue is Bhopal’s Jamboree Maidan, which had played host to Modi on September 25 when a crowd of over five lakh had gathered.

The mood in the Congress, which lost heavily across the state, is that of despondency and anger.

Satyavrat Chaturvedi, a senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP from the state, is reported to have accused general secretary Digvijaya Singh of “conspiring” against the party. Chaturvedi, whose brother lost the election, was quoted by a Hindi daily today as saying: “It is time his (Digvijaya’s) role in the poll debacle is probed.”

The leader of the Opposition in the outgoing Assembly, Ajay Singh, targeted Jyotiraditya Scindia who headed the party’s election panel in Madhya Pradesh. Ajay, son of the late Arjun Singh, released region-wise data to show how the party had performed badly in Scindia’s turf of Gwalior and Chambal. In 2008, the Congress had won 13 out of 34 seats in the region. The tally dropped to 10 in 2013 when Scindia was informally projected as chief ministerial nominee.

During candidate selection in Madhya Pradesh, Rahul Gandhi had taken a written undertaking from half-a-dozen regional satraps that they would be accountable for the performance of their nominees. It’s now to be seen if he will crack the whip on Scindia, Digvijaya, Kamal Nath and the others.

In Nath’s Mahakaushal region, the party slipped from 16 to 12 out of 38.

Digvijaya’s son Jaivardhan won from Raghaogarh but his supporters performed poorly in the Madhya Bharat and Malwa region.

Another notable loser was 10 Janpath loyalist Suresh Pachouri, a four-time Rajya Sabha member who was heading the AICC’s department of information, policy and planning.

Out of 56 MLAs repeated by the Congress in the state, 42 failed to get elected. By contrast, the ruling BJP could get elected 44 of the 65 sitting MLAs it re-nominated.

Out of 19 relatives of senior Congress leaders whose names were cleared by Rahul, only 11 won their seats.

Rahul himself fared poorly as a campaigner. He addressed four rallies in the state that covered 47 Assembly segments. The Congress won 14 seats, four short of its tally in 2008 when Rahul had not campaigned there.

The BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, addressed 13 rallies targeting 72 seats. The BJP won 52, adding three seats to its 2008 count.

Many BJP nominees in cities like Bhopal and Indore won by huge margins, suggesting the presence of “two waves” — one against the Congress and the other in favour of Modi. BJP nominee Ramesh Mandola from Indore won by 91,017 votes. In Bhopal, minister Babulal Gaur’s victory margin was over 70,000.

Gaur, a former chief minister quickly, gave credit to Modi saying the margin of victory surprised him. “It is only due to Modi factor,” he said. Gaur, who won the seat for the tenth time in a row, is not on the best of terms with chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

But a section of the Congress is sympathetic towards Rahul, saying the vice-president tried different methods but nothing worked. In Madhya Pradesh, he showcased Scindia as the face of the party and got the faction-ridden state unit to back him but the Union power minister flopped.

In Chhattisgarh, Rahul brokered peace between supporters of Ajit Jogi and groups loyal to Motilal Vora and Charan Das Mahant. In Rajasthan, he tried the old Congress trick of pitting one satrap against another but in the process both Ashok Gehlot and C.P. Joshi failed to make an impact.

Delhi saw Rahul taking a “back seat” amid reports of an anti-UPA sentiment in the national capital. But even pushing forward Sheila Dikshit, widely seen as an achiever, failed.