By L S Herdenia
BHOPAL: Kamal Nath’s visit to Bhopal and the mammoth reception he got opened a new chapter in the politics of Madhya Pradesh. The mature way he behaved has forced the ruling BJP to realise that the challenge was real and it can’t afford to be complacent.
By all accounts the reception was unprecedented and biggest since BJP came to power in 2003. Normally people are brought to participate in such events. But this time it is claimed that people came on their own. What does this massive turnout mean? Firstly it means that people are fed up with the present government. Never since its formation in 1956 has the state been found to be knee deep in corruption like it is today.
The day Kamal Nath was in Bhopal raids conducted on the residence and office of an ordinary excise officer yielded property valuing several crores. Almost every day such raids are conducted and wealth disproportionate to known sources of income is dug up. The Vyapam scandal has ruined the carrier of several youngsters. There is near chaos in the rural areas. MP tops the list as far suicides by farmers are concerned.
There is also near anarchy in the bureaucracy. This fact was admitted by Chief Minister Chouhan while speaking at the programme held to mark the civil service day. The chief minister said senior officers in the government behave like India and Pakistan. The comment sent shock waves in administrative and political circles. The state of affairs in MP are such that the Vice-Chairman of the Niti Ayog remarked that Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh have to be blamed for slow progress of the country. The observation contradicts the claim of Chouhan that MP is no more a “Bimaru state”.
The second factor for the large turnout to welcome Kamal Nath was that he did not come alone. He came along with all the group leaders of the Congress. It was earlier thought that Kamal Nath may not give importance to Digvijay Singh. But those who thought so were disappointed when they found that most of the appointments which Kamal Nath made after taking charge were filled up persons who are very close to Digvijay Singh. Among them was Manak Agarwal, who was made chief of public relations cell of the state Congress, but stopped coming to the PCC office from the day Arun Yadav was made president of the state Congress.
Agarwal is regarded as a Digvijay Singh loyalist. Govind Goyal, another Digvijay loyalist was made treasurer of the state Congress. Goyal was expelled from the party because of his unbecoming behaviour. For sometime he ran a parallel Congress. His appointment shows that Digvijay Singh’s grip over the party machinery is intact. That is why many observers feel that ultimately it may be Chouhan versus Kamal Nath-Digvijay Singh.
It is learnt that the outgoing PCC chief is angry over the casual manner in which he was removed from the post much before the expiry of his term. What impact it will have on the efforts of Kamal Nath to forge unity has to be seen. Another leader Ajay Singh, who is chief of the Congress Legislature Party, is also not very happy over the team constituted by the Congress president. But Kamal Nath tried to please him by accepting his invitation to have a cup of tea at his residence. Both Ajay Singh and Kamal Nath recalled that this house (C-19, Shivaji Nagar) has a glorious history. Originally this government house was allotted to Arjun Singh (Ajay Singh’s father) when he was a member of Congress ministry headed by P C Sethi. When Congress lost power in 1977 Arjun Singh became leader of the opposition. Between 1977 and 1980 this house was the war room for the Congress. It was during the occupancy of this house that the Congress returned to power in 1980 and Arjun Singh became chief minister. “Since you are here on my invitation it can be stated with certainty that we will be in power in November 2018,” remarked Ajay Singh while welcoming Kamal Nath.
Kamal Nath during his brief stay in Bhopal met partymen, assigned tasks to the selected leaders. After the Bhopal stay Kamal Nath began his religious journey to seek blessings of gods. He first visited Gufa Mandir in Bhopal, then left for Ujjain and performed ‘Abhishek’ at Mahakal Mandir. From Ujjain he went to Datia to seek the blessings of Pitambara goddess.
Perhaps perturbed over the popular response Kamal Nath got, BJP has started brisk consultations in Bhopal. In order to assess the impact of the new Congress team national president Amit Shah was here on a short two hour visit. Originally he was to be taken in a procession from the airport to the venue of the meeting, but suddenly the programme was cancelled. Paucity of time was the reason given for the cancellation, but Congressmen commented that the fear of the event getting compared to the massive reception Kamal Nath got must have been the real reason. (IPA Service)