By L S Herdenia
BHOPAL: Congress has alleged use of Police and administration in the election of office bearers of district Panchayat. It was adoption of these tactics that the BJP could capture 41 district Panchayats out of 51 for which elections were held. Congress could capture only 9. . The final results were out on July 29 evening.
Election to Bhopal district Panchayat was very dramatic. The Congress candidate was forcibly made to defect by a group of ministers. This was opposed but top Congress leaders including Digvijaya Singh. BJP leaders alleged that Digvijaya Singh lost his cool and raised hand on a police constable.
After the elections were over Chief Minister Shiv Raj Singh Chouhan hailed what he described BJP’s one sided win in panchayat polls. The ruling BJP has swept the recent panchayat elections in Madhya Pradesh, Chief Minister said adding that “Congress has been wiped out at the ground level”.
BJP said it has won the district panchayat president and vice-president election in 41 districts out of 51 where elections were held. Congress sources say they won in 9 districts and Gondwana Gantantra Party (GGP) in 1 district.
Chouhan and BJP state president VD Sharma said the party has won more than 80% posts in panchayat elections – from gram panchayat to district panchayat level.
“This is a historic victory. In the district panchayat elections Congress was reduced to single digit and couldn’t even reach the tens. The BJP organisation has been successful in taking the works of the government to the people”. Chouhan tweeted, hailing the “one sided victory”.
In the elections for the post of president and vice-president of district panchayats, BJP- supported candidates won 41 of the 51 districts, Chouhan said, adding that of the 23,000 panchayats, BJP-supported candidates won sarpanch post in 90% seats and 625 won unopposed. In 312 janpad panchayats, BJP-supported candidates won the post of president and vice-president in 227, while 20 others affiliated to party won, he said. Congress backed candidates won in 64.
Congress, which says it performed fairly well at gram panchayat and janpad panchayat level, accused BJP of using administration, police, money and other unfair means to win the president and vice-president election at the district level.
PCC president Kamal Nath said Congress-supported candidates have won at several places but were defeated at many places “because of BJP’s deceit and use of unfair means”. He didn’t specify the number of places where Congress won.
Among the districts where Congress supported candidates have won include Chhindwara and Rajgarh, the bastion of former CMs Kama lath and Digvijaya Singh.
According to sources, at Umaria and Dhar, Congress and BJP-backed candidates won the same number of votes for district president and the winner was elected through a draw. BJP-supported candidates won at both the places.
Elections to Bhopal district panchayat was marked by direct confrontation between Digvijaya Singh and a state minister. Both were involved in a public face off with police struggling to keep supporters of the two parties away from each other.
Things got volatile during the election of the Bhopal district panchayat president and vice-president when minister Bhupendra Singh brought poll winner Ramkunwar Gurjar and her husband Navarang Gurjar, a Congress leader, in his car. Digvijaya objected to this and it led to a run in with him, and later with Sarang.
In a viral video, Sarang the medical education minister, is seen in his car while Congress leaders shouted that the vehicle can’t be allowed any further (the ‘prohibited area’ they called it). Sarang jumped out of his car and asked the policemen to “drive the Congress leaders away”. “Hatao in sab ko, hatao, aisa thodi chalega” he is heard saying, while an agitated Digvijaya is kept at a distance by police. Digvijaya also made a point to Bhupendra, who was seen smiling.
A close aide of Digvijaya said he was asking how minister Bhupendra Singh could bring voters in his car. Ramkunwar went on to be elected Bhopal district panchayat president and Mohan Singh Jat, the vice president.
When the election process began in the morning, Congress MLA Arif Masod alleged that BJP had lured away four Congress-supported members of the panchayat promising each that they would be made the president or vice-president. This delayed the nomination process by 45 minutes to allow BJP resolve the issue.
Both BJP and Congress workers were present in full strength when elected district panchayat members, who were to vote for the president and vice president, started arriving at the district panchayat office. BJP leaders Bhupendra Singh, Rameshwar Sharma, Shaitan Singh Pal, Vishnu Khatri and later Vishwas Sarang arrived to take them into the building skirting Congress leaders and workers who shouted slogans against the BJP and accused police and administration of working as “BJP agents”.
Congress alleged that the collector allowed proxy/tender votes for four of the 10 district panchayat members – someone else voted on their behalf – despite the fact that none of them is illiterate or ailing so as to be unable to cast their vote. Besides it was not their blood relatives who cast the vote on their behalf as is the norm, but BJP workers, they alleged.
After the high-voltage election, there was a barrage of tweets with pictures from both camps.. While Congress accused BJP of stealing the mandate, BJP accused Congress leaders of manhandling police.
Digvijaya Singh called it arm twisting by the administration and criticised the ‘arrogance’ of the government. PCC chief Kamal Nath said: “our candidates were defeated by abuse of power”.
CM Shviraj Singh Chouhan tweeted “Such indecent behaviour doesn’t suit an ex-CM. He holds a policeman by the collar, shouts and tries to breach the district panchayat office gate. It’s disrespectful”. Sarang tweeted that Digvijaya has a “habit of raising hand on uniformed personnel”. “This is the true face of Congress” he alleged.
The state BJP has got a big boost after the latest phase of elections. The Congress has also fought by mobilizing its organization in full strength under Kamal Nath. Both the parties are now preparing for the next battle the assembly elections in 2023. (IPA Service)