By L.S. Herdenia
BHOPAL: Reports in local newspapers indicate that Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is getting massive response during his “Jan Ashrivad Yatra”. In one such picture hundreds of people are listening to Chouhan’s speech despite heavy rains.
While the chief minister is getting huge response, his government is facing an embarrassing situation in Bhopal, where various sections of government servants are observing a strike. Also, veteran Congress leader Digvijaya Singh created an embarrassing situation by taking out a massive rally, asking the police to arrest him because the chief minister has accused him of being anti-national and traitor.
The strike by government employees paralysed the functioning of the government secretariat. Reports from districts indicate that the strike has also paralysed district administration. Similarly, the strike by junior doctors affected the health services in the hospitals attached to various government medical colleges.
Despite the High Court declaring the strike as illegal, junior doctors continued their agitation. The government adopted a tough posture and refused to talk to the doctors. After a weeklong strike junior doctors called off their strike on July 27 when the government decided to terminate their services. The doctors went on strike to protest against non-implementation of assurances given to them. Teachers, Mandi employees and transporters also went on strike.
The rally brought out by Digvijaya Singh crated a strange situation for the Chief Minister. A week after Shivraj Singh Chouhan dubbed Digvijaya Singh as ‘anti national’ the Congress leader presented himself before the police to court arrest.
Hundreds of Digvijaya Singh supporters from across the state had joined the march that began from the PCC office. State party chief Kamal Nath, who flagged off the march, did not however participate in it. But a number of party MLAs marched with Singh. When the rally reached TT Nagar square police stopped the Congressmen and only Singh and a few partymen were allowed to enter the police station. Police had to resort to a mild cane charge to control aggressive Congress party workers.
Singh, flanked by his MLA son Jaivardhan Singh and others, reached the TT Nagar police station asking police to arrest him. The police, however, told Singh that he could not be arrested as there was no sedition case registered against him in the police station. He obtained a letter from the police, which said that no criminal case or complaint of sedition against Digvijaya Singh has been lodged in police station as per the records.
Singh had announced last week that as the BJP government dubs him anti national, he would go to the TT Nagar police station and that the police should arrest him. At a press conference in Satna during the ongoing Jan Ashrivad Yatra, Shivraj Singh Chouhan had referred to Digvijaya as an anti-national. He had accused Singh of glorifying terrorists and insulting India and its culture by talking about “Hindu terrorism,” which he said amounted to indulging in anti-national activities. His march was in response to Chouhan’s remarks.
No prominent party leaders were present in the rally. While Kamal Nath remained busy at the PCC office taking meetings, election campaign committee chairman Jyotiraditya Scindia, leader of opposition in Vidhan Sabha Ajay Singh, and working president Jeeetu Patwari did not mark their presence in the rally.
Observers feel that by mounting an impressive show of strength on a relatively minor issue, Digvijaya Singh has again proved that he is in no mood to disappear into political oblivion,. His arrest-me-if-you-can challenge to the CM is seen as an attempt to announce to the world – and especially to the central leadership of his party – that he cannot be written off.
The 71 year old has faced many a setback in the recent past. He lost the AICC general secretary’s post and was not included in the reconstituted Congress Working Committee. Earlier he was relieved of the charge of Goa, Karnataka and Telangana states and stopped from taking out a state-wide yatra.
This protest is being perceived as the stalwart’s attempt to regain lost relevance. His ‘non political’ Narmada Yatra also had the same objective, though how much he succeeded in it is anybody’s guess. Incidentally, it is not for the first time that Diggi Raja is being seen as a spent force – a has been, especially after he lost the 2003 assembly elections to Uma Bharti led BJP. But he has bounced back to centre stage and is even said to be one of the political mentors of Rahul Gandhi.
The BJP would, of course, love to have Digvijaya as an opposition face during the election campaign as it would give much more ammunition to them compared to Kamal Nath or Jyotiraditya Scindia. Be that as it may, with this show he has made it clear that he has no intention of fading away. (IPA Service)