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Chouhan deals power punch

BUDHNI WAS supposed to go to polls today. Instead, the assembly constituency saw Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan roll out a ?padyatra? to expose the Kaikayis and Manthras of the Congress, who stalled Lord Ram?s coronation.

india Updated: Apr 25, 2006 13:17 IST

BUDHNI WAS supposed to go to polls today. Instead, the assembly constituency saw Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan roll out a ‘padyatra’ to expose the Kaikayis and Manthras of the Congress, who stalled Lord Ram’s coronation.

After the polling was deferred to May 3, the BJP has changed its campaign strategy. Now the party plans to explain to the electorate how the Congress “shenanigans” have put them in trouble.

Top of the agenda is power: Budhni has been receiving nearly 21 hours of power since December. After a Congress complaint, the EC saw it to it that the hours of power cut on the VIP turf were on a par with the rest of the rest (7 hours a day). People are angry at being deprived of surplus power.

Embarking on his five-day padyatra from Gopalpur, Chouhan lambasted Digvijay Singh and Uma Bharti. An uncharacteristically belligerent Chouhan today said these leaders were out to thwart his election. Till now the CM was eschewing naming opposition leaders in his campaign. Leaders like Digvijay Singh, Jamuna Devi and Uma Bharti were scared of him, Chouhan said while comparing the opponents to Kaikeyi and Manthra of Ramayana.

The CM was accompanied by wife, son and supporters. After a few kilometers’ march his wife Sadhna Singh and son left for some other place in a car.

Youths beating drum, a ‘rath’ fitted with public address system moving about 100 yards ahead of him, his official jeep and other jeeps following him was the scene of the padyatra after it started to cover about 25 km on day one from Gopalpur to Nasrullahganj.

Invoking a scene from Ramayan at an election meeting before hitting the streets, Chouhan said Ayodhya was rejoicing the occasion but Kaikeyi and Manthra did not like it. Hence, Lord Ram had to go on exile on foot.

‘But there is no meaning of rajtilak until Ravana is killed’, he added. In a scathing attack on the Congress and Uma, he said his contest was not with Rajkumar Patel. In fact, there were leaders like Digvijay, Jamuna and Uma who feared that he was running his government well and would complete his tenure. Out of frustration they are lodging complaints with the EC, he said.

Chouhan said whatever he announced for Budhni he did it before the model code of conduct was enforced. He said he had chalked out a development plan for MP. The industries coming to Budhni are a part of the industrial growth in MP, he claimed.

...Party wary of Lakshman rekha of EC

No hoardings, cutouts and posters. No banners, flags and pamphlets. No sound and fury of electioneering. Only the Election Commision’s orders are writ large on the walls of Rehati, a small town in the Budhni assembly constituency on Obaidullahganj-Nasrullahganj road. A couple of days back, Rehati was decked up with campaign material and bombarded with speeches and slogans of rival camps.

A chastened BJP has even removed banners hanging outside its election office at Rehati. Political Parties and district administration are wary of crossing the lakshman rekha on model code of conduct. And the BJP is extra careful. The reason: if the Budhni election is postponed beyond May 28, Shivraj Singh Chouhan will have to step down from the Chief Minister’s chair. He has to get people’s mandate within six months after being elected CM.

Now Budhni is neither swamped by an army of BJP workers nor criss-crossed by a fleet of luxury cars and jeeps. A handful of workers are taking guard at the Rehati BJP office and they have only a limited camapaign material to show.

Dejected Vimal Pansari, a BJP worker and the nagar panchayat vice-president, turned his ire at officials, saying they removed the posters and banners from private houses and government buildings. The officials asked house owners if they have got permission for putting up banners on their premises, and removed them, Pansari said. The walls used for canvassing were whitewashed.

Hukum Chand Gupta and Vishnu Thakur, residents of Rehati, said officials even removed banners and posters from the fourth floor of the houses.

Nasrullahganj, a tehsil headquarters in Budhni, is no different. Though a few posters and banners could be traced. The constituency seemed to have gained prosperity like Punjab with big and luxury cars and jeeps seen in every nook and corner of the constituency. But now they only a countable few.

First Published: Apr 25, 2006 13:17 IST