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Faction-riddled Madhya Pradesh Congress plans unity show at farmers’ rally

Party stalwarts such as Kamal Nath, Digvijaya Singh, Ajay Singh, Suresh Pachauri are expected to attend the rally, which is essentially a Jyotiraditya Scindia show.

india Updated: Jul 09, 2017 15:17 IST
Punya Priya Mitra
Punya Priya Mitra
Hindustan Times, Gwalior
Congress,Farmers rally,Farm crisis
Congress has put up several such hoardings about Lahsar kisan sammelan across Gwalior city (Mujeeb Faruqui/HT Photo)

The faction-riddled Madhya Pradesh Congress has planned to put up a unity show at a farmers’ rally at Lahaar on Monday as it looks for a winning formula ahead of the 2018-assembly polls.

The kisan sammelan-- billed as the biggest farmers’ rally the party has organised in the recent past-- though is essentially a show of party’s four-time MP Jyotiraditya Scindia, all Congress stalwarts from the state are expected to attend it, party sources said.

Former union minister Kamal Nath, AICC general secretary Digvijaya Singh, leader of the Opposition Ajay Singh, senior state leader Suresh Pachauri, Congress state president Arun Yadav among others will share the dais to revive the party’s ‘Dabra’ spirit.

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

The BJP, which wrested power back from the Congress in 2003, is ruling the state for the past 17 years.

Among others, many attribute the party’s poor show in the state, to differences among senior state Congress leaders.

But in the growing discontentment among farmers, especially after the killing of six cultivators in police firing and lathi charge in Mandsaur in the first week of June, the Congress sees a political opportunity to dethrone the BJP.

The farmers are demanding loan waiver and remunerative price for their crops.

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

After Lahaar in Bhind district, two other rallies will be organised in Veerpur in Gwalior and Churhat in Sidhi district. Churhat is the assembly constituency of Ajay Singh, son of former Congress leader late Arjun Singh.

Singh, whose father was part of the Dabra conclave, talking to Hindustan Times said, “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.”

The fact that Lahaar is the constituency of Congress MLA Govind Singh, who is more close to Digvijaya Singh than Scindia, too has not gone unnoticed in the political circles.

The party, meanwhile, has pulled out all the stops to make the rally a success.

In Gwalior, the busy road outside the railway station and elsewhere in the city are dotted with posters appealing the people to join the rally.

The party functionaries are also taking out rallies at the local level and making announcements about the Lahaar rally over loudspeakers for the past few days.

Congress sources said Scindia and other leaders will go in a cavalcade of over 2000 vehicles from Guwalior to Lahaar, covering the distance of 77 kilometers in about four hours. Leaders will be greeted at several places along the route.

The BJP, which is on the back foot over the farmers agitation is, however, trying to put up a brave front, dismissing the Congress’s bid to revive its electoral fortune in the state.

“The Congress does not have credibility, leadership or organisation in the state. They are doing this with an eye on the assembly polls. They do not have genuine concern for farmers. Let them do it. We hold such sammelans four times every year,” said BJP state spokesperson Deepak Vijayvargiya.

Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on his part has been trying to douse the farmers’ anger through a slew of measures.

He visited the families of those killed in police firing in Mandsaur and announced an ex gratia of Rs 1 crore each for the next of kin of the slain farmers. His government also announced to purchase onion at Rs 8 per kg and waive off power bills of small and marginal farmers.

The BJP is also taking out a Kisan Sandesh Yatra where party leaders will meet the farmers.

First Published: Jul 09, 2017 15:17 IST