Bhopal, March 19: Varanasi is offering some Congress satraps salvation from tribulations back home.
Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh has made himself available to contest against Narendra Modi in the pilgrimage point in Uttar Pradesh, prompting many leaders in neighbouring Madhya Pradesh to smell a larger design.
They feel that Digvijaya’s offer is a clever ploy to counter his detractors within the party who were plotting to make him contest against Sushma Swaraj at Vidisha in Madhya Pradesh.
Digvijaya’s decision to step forward is also expected to cast him in good light, especially in the middle of suggestions that many senior UPA ministers have been fighting shy of contesting the Lok Sabha elections.
Digvijaya had earned the ire of many leaders in Madhya Pradesh when he bagged the lone Rajya Sabha berth in February this year. His son, Jaivardhan, 27, is an MLA from family pocket borough, Raghaogarh.
Behind the scenes, three senior Congress leaders —Kamal Nath, Jyotiraditya Scindia and state Congress chief Arun Yadav — were nudging the high command to field Digvijaya from Vidisha against Swaraj.
Digvijaya, perhaps, got wind of these deliberations and reportedly communicated to fellow AICC general secretary Madhusudan Mistry to consider him for Varanasi.
Sources close to Digvijaya said that “the sacrificial” offer was made because a defeat to Modi, a candidate for Prime Minister, was far better than the same fate at the hands of Swaraj.
However, Digvijaya’s supporters insisted, a Varanasi contest would not be as one-sided as is being portrayed. Digvijaya is also pinning hopes on his spiritual guru and the Shankaracharya of Dwarka, Swami Swaroopananda, an anti-BJP-VHP seer who may mobilise many religious leaders.
Digvijaya was instrumental in putting Swaroopananda in touch with former Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao when an ambitious but unsuccessful bid was made to set up a Ramalaya trust.
The objective behind the trust was to sideline the VHP from Ayodhya Ramjanmabhoomi movement. Rao ran out of time and could not muster enough support within the Congress and the 1996 general election defeat brought an abrupt end to the drive.
If the Congress high command decides to field him from Varanasi, Digvijaya is expected to try to showcase himself as a “good practising Hindu.” In July 2013, Digvijaya blogged: “The BJP’s Hindutatva has nothing to do with Religion but a ploy to dupe unsuspecting Hindus.... A good Hindu would always respect all other religions, unlike the Sangh brigade.”
Digvijaya also wrote that his sanatana dharma upbringing entails him to pray every day for half an hour. The Congress leader also disclosed that he was given diksha by Swaroopananda.
“Would all those who believe I am Anti-Hindu please take note of this? Or do they know a more devout Hindu in the BJP and the RSS? If they do, I would like to meet him,” he blogged.
In and around Raghaogarh, Digvijaya is also addressed as “Hindu Pati” (defender of the faith).