The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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BJP on destroy Digvijay rath

New Delhi, Nov 9: In Madhya Pradesh’s folk idiom, bhantadhar means destruction. The word will be put to use by the BJP in its campaign against chief minister Digvijay Singh, who will be projected as a “master of destruction”, the antithesis of development that the Congress is focusing on.

BJP sources said the main slogans in Madhya Pradesh will be “Shriman bhantadhar ko dur se namaskar” (greet the master of destruction from a distance) and “andher nagari, chaupat raja” (dark city, duffer king). The campaign will say that instead of providing power, water and roads, the 10-year Digvijay rule has been marked by killings and rape.

Sources said the decision to field MP and BJP general secretary Shivraj Singh Chauhan from Digvijay’s constituency, Raghopur, is meant not just to give the chief minister a tough fight but also to draw the backward caste vote. Uma Bharti and Chauhan belong to the backward castes, which make up a little over 50 per cent of the electorate.

Just how serious the BJP is about defeating Digvijay is evident from the fact that the party has deputed two senior functionaries, Gopinath Munde from Maharashtra and Sushil Kumar Modi from Bihar, to oversee the Raghopur constituency.

But sources had doubts on two counts. “We believe that the lower rung of the administration is still supportive of Digvijay and second, a survey we did showed that while Digvijay’s popularity has declined, the Congress’ has not. So our strategy should not be to bog him down in his constituency. It will help us if he tours the state extensively so that our negative campaign against him works,” they explained.

A meeting of the BJP’s central election committee held this morning in Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s residence to finalise the names for the four states was inconclusive. The leaders were expected to resume their sitting later in the evening and complete the exercise by tonight because Vajpayee will be busy with the Swiss head of state’s visit tomorrow and leave on his overseas trip the day after.

Rajasthan will dominate the second half of the meeting because the leaders have as many as 107 names to run through. Sources said they would also have to account for the fact that an MP from Bharatpur has openly opposed the nominations in his area, the chief ministerial nominee Vasundhara Raje is perceived as a “paratrooper”, and that “genuine, grassroots” workers have been given the short shrift.

State leaders attending the meeting are expected to give their views, which, sources said is that “the rebellion is real to an extent and cannot be overlooked”.

Although the BJP clinched most of the Madhya Pradesh nominations, barring six, sources admitted that there was a feeling Uma and her confidants like central minister Prahlad Patel had their way for the most part while old-timers like Sunderlal Patwa were sidelined.

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