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Congress’s Kisan Sammelan to test its unity, poll readiness for 2018

bhopal Updated: Jul 09, 2017 22:09 IST
Punya Priya Mitra
Punya Priya Mitra
Hindustan Times, Bhopal
Congress,Kisan Sammelan,Jyotiraditya Scindia

Hoardings with pictures of Congress leaders, including Jyotiraditya Scindia, holding the Kisan Sammelan (farmers’ convention) in Lahar are seen on a road in Gwalior.(Mujeeb Faruqui/HT Photo)

Congress’s Kisan Sammelan (farmers’ convention) in Lahaar of Madhya Pradesh’s Bhind district, close to Gwalior, will signal its readiness for the 2018 assembly polls and also whether the party’s ‘Dabra’ spirit can be revived.

The ‘Dabra’ spirit is the holy grail for Congress unity. In 1993, the late Madhavrao Scindia initiated a conclave of senior Congress leaders in Dabra, a small town 45 km from Gwalior, just before the 1993 assembly elections where they managed to bury the hatchet and succeeded in coming to power besting the BJP.

The parallels are obvious. The ‘show’ at Laahar will be Madhavrao’s son, Jyotiraditya’s, and all senior Congress leaders, including former Union minister Kamal Nath, AICC general secretary Digvijaya Singh, leader of Opposition Ajay Singh, senior state leader Suresh Pachauri, Congress state president Arun Yadav will be among the present.

The Scindias, erstwhile rulers of Gwalior state, have held sway in the entire region for decades even though BJP has been in power for the past 17 years in the state.

Also, Lahaar is Congress MLA Govind Singh’s constituency, and the fact that he is closer to Digvijaya Singh than Scindia has not gone unnoticed in political circles. Now, it remains to be seen how things pan out on the unity front.

Ajay Singh, son of late Congress leader Arjun Singh who was part of the Dabra conclave, told HT, “Though the Dabra spirit was of a different era, it is also true that for the past two-three months we are moving in that direction and the Lahaar convention is a step towards it.”

Loud and Visible

The preparations for the sammelan are visible all around. In Gwalior, posters portraying party unity span on the busy road outside the railway station and elsewhere in the city, appealing all to join the Kisan Sammelan.

Local rallies are being taken out by Congressmen, and several vehicles, with blaring loudspeakers reminding people of the convention, have been doing the rounds of the city for the past few days.

Over 2,000 vehicles will accompany Scindia’s rally from Gwalior to Lahaar and it will take around four hours to reach Lahar as all the leaders will be greeted at several places along the route.

Tapping into Farmers’ Anger

With the BJP government on the back foot, the rally, focussing on the farmers’ crisis, is aimed at the Madhya Pradesh assembly polls, 16 months away.

There is palpable anger among farmers, especially after the killing of six farmers in police firing and lathi-charge in Mandsaur in the first week of June. The farmers are demanding loan waiver and remunerative price for their crops.

State Congress spokesperson, K K Mishra said the party has been raising farmers’ issues through Kisan Sammelans and meetings in state in the past one month. “It started with Scindiaji’s satyagraha in Bhopal and was followed by kisan sammelans in Mhow, Khalghat and Mandsaur.”

After Lahar, two other Kisan Sammelans will be organised in Veerpur in Gwalior and Churhat in Sidhi district, which is Ajay Singh’s constituency.

BJP puts up brave front

The BJP too realises the Congress’s game plan and for the last one month the chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has been trying to douse the farmers’ anger through a slew of measures — visiting the families of those killed in police firing and announcing compensation of Rs 1 crore for them, purchasing onion at Rs 8 per kg, waiving power bills of small and marginal farmers, and taking out a Kisan Sandesh Yatra where party leaders meet farmers.

The BJP is officially trying to put up a brave front and is dismissive of the Congress.

BJP state spokesperson, Deepak Vijayvargiya says the Congress does not have credibility, leadership or organisation in the state.

“They are doing this with an eye on the polls, and not due to genuine concern for farmers,” he said.

First Published: Jul 09, 2017 22:09 IST