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A politician’s ‘religious and spiritual journey’ but why it causes ripples in Cong

‘He has chosen a wrong time. Divested of his charge of Goa and Karnataka Diggi Raja is trying to regain his lost ground in the party through this yatra’

bhopal Updated: Sep 15, 2017 22:04 IST
Ranjan, Hindustan Times, Bhopal
Digvijaya Singh,AICC,General secretary
(Hindustan Times)

AICC general secretary Digvijaya Singh’s what he terms a religious and spiritual journey for six months beginning September 30 comes at a time when state Congress is trying to put its house in order to defy the BJP a fourth time consecutive victory in 2018 assembly elections.

Understandably, barely a couple of months after he announced in public that he would not be in the forefront of the party leadership in Madhya Pradesh in a bid to deny the BJP a chance to sharpen its attack on him the septuagenarian leader’s proposed ‘Narmada Parikrama’ afoot has caused ripples in the Congress instead of making the ruling party jittery.

“He has chosen a wrong time. Divested of his charge of Goa and Karnataka Diggi Raja is trying to regain his lost ground in the party through this yatra. His yatra will definitely send a wrong message and lead to a state of confusion in the party ahead of 2018 assembly elections”, said a party leader not willing to be quoted.

However, Digvijaya Singh says there is nothing political in Narmada Parikrama and nothing should be read between the lines.

Talking to Hindustan Times over phone Digvijaya Singh said, “It’s completely a religious and spiritual journey. I was touring Mandla in 1998 (as the then CM) when it dawned on me that I should do Narmada Parikrama. I have invited none in the yatra and there will be a strict ‘No’ to political statements.”

On how he would like to compare his yatra with chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s recently concluded ‘Narmada Seva Yatra’ the former CM said, “Chouhan’s yatra was not a yatra but a fraud and there was wastage of huge public money on the same.”

As per Digvijaya Singh camp, he would cover about 3300 kilometers afoot for the parikrama (taking a round) of Narmada. Initially, he would walk for 8 to 10 kilometers a day but later he would increase the distance. He would cover Narmada in Gujarat too.

If there is concern in Congress camp the BJP leaders are trying to devise a strategy as to how to draw political mileage from Digvijaya Singh’s yatra. In successive assembly elections- 2003, 2008 and 2013- Digvijaya Singh’s rule has been a major issue raised by the BJP leaders.

“We have no concern with what Digvijaya Singh does or doesn’t. We will contest elections on the issue of development but surely his presence for such a long time will remind people of the state’s backwardness during his 10-year-rule”, said state BJP spokesperson Rajneesh Agrawal.

Political analyst Girijashankar says, “A religious yatra is a question of faith. A yatra announced in advance and publicised cannot be a religious yatra. It’s a political yatra. That’s why, the ruling party will try to juxtapose Digvijaya Singh’s yatra with its charges of misrule against him before people to draw advantage from the same.”

First Published: Sep 15, 2017 22:04 IST