| Digvijay Singh
Bhopal, Jan. 5: The Madhya Pradesh Assembly election is due in December, but a desperate BJP and an equally edgy Congress have already launched a high-pitched campaign, fighting bitterly over Hindutva, the legacy of Swami Vivekananda, power crisis, water shortage and governance.
Rattled by the success of the Hindutva plank in Gujarat, the Congress has sought refuge in Swami Vivekananda, picking his birthday on January 12 to launch its statewide “Save the national flag” programme.
According to the Congress, the BJP and the Sangh parivar represent a “distorted picture” of Hinduism, which can be “countered” by propagating its “true spirit” as defined by Swami Vivekananda.
Between January 12 and 30, Congress members would encourage people in the state to hoist the national flag and caution voters against the BJP’s “politics of hate”.
Chief minister Digvijay Singh has challenged the BJP’s chief ministerial aspirant, Uma Bharti, to a public “shastrath” (verbal duel) on the finer points of Hinduism. Bharti, who is camping in the state, is yet to respond to the challenge.
Digvijay is under pressure to retain the Congress’ hold in the state. In a recent meeting with party chief Sonia Gandhi, he was told that she would expect the Congress to retain power in the state as a “gift” from Digvijay for 2003.
“I would not disappoint you,” the chief minister reportedly told Sonia.
The BJP has unleashed star campaigner Bharti, focusing on the “acute” power shortage in the state. On Wednesday, about 2 lakh BJP workers courted arrest. Later this month, the BJP plans to bring the “victor of Gujarat”, Narendra Modi, to the state.
Digvijay took a potshot at the RSS when he raised the issue of a land acquisition adjacent to the Mahakalshwar temple in Ujjain.
Mocking the RSS’ claims of being “a saviour of Hindus”, the chief minister said the RSS was refusing to provide land for pilgrims attending a religious “simhastha fair” in the temple town. Digvijay released a letter seeking Sangh chief K. Sudershan’s intervention.
The RSS reacted angrily to Digvijay’s charge and alleged that he was trying to “politicise” the issue. State RSS functionaries said the outfit was willing to offer 13 bighas.
The BJP has prepared a report card highlighting the Congress government’s failures on 30 growth indicators.
The report showed that Madhya Pradesh still topped child mortality charts, the power situation was abysmal and bad roads were all over.
In addition, the state has the dubious distinction of having maximum cases of atrocities against women.
Besides public meetings, dharnas and war of words, the Congress and the BJP are seeking a “hand of God” to ensure victory. Gurus, babas and soothsayers are being employed by both the parties to propitiate the gods. There are reports of Congress leaders funding the Mahamurtanjya yagna (to harm opponents) and the BJP leaders seeking the services of tantriks to ward off its impact.
However, going by indications, both the parties are hit by factionalism. In Bharti, the central leadership of the BJP may have found an effective campaigner but the party is still shy of declaring her as a chief ministerial nominee.
A powerful lobby led by Union ministers Vikram Verma and Sumitra Mahajan and state leaders like Babulal Gaur and Sunderlal Patwa are resisting her on the ground that she lacks leadership qualities.