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Three states, three Chief Ministers but same result

Digvijay Singh's 'secret' election management skills has cost the Congress its central Indian bastion.

india Updated: Dec 05, 2003 15:05 IST
Abhilash Khandekar
Abhilash Khandekar

Chief Minister Digvijay Singh's failure to deliver in his second term, his reluctance to give space to other Congress leaders and his over confidence on his 'secret' election management skills have collectively cost the Congress its central Indian bastion.

Without taking anything away from the Uma Bharti-Arun Jaitley duo, the fact is that the Congress debacle is a reflection of Digvijay's social engineering, election management and other such catch-phrases coined at the cost of real development.

Congressmen too agree that Digvijay has failed. "He not only kept all of us in the dark but also misled our president Sonia Gandhi,'' said a senior PCC functionary. He said the CM kept discussing his poll plans with IAS and IPS officers but chose not to trust the Congress worker who had his ears to the ground.

Curiously, when the people wanted jobs, he sacked over 28,000 daily wagers from government service; when people wanted electricity, he decentralised power through a corrupt Panchayati Raj; and when people asked for good roads, he chose to impress them with some little known global awards in health, education and the IT sector. Not only did he compare MP with Bihar but went to the extent of stating that "developmental works don't win elections'', citing Laloo Yadav's example.

Not surprisingly, the BJP's intelligently conceived ad campaign called him Mr Disaster (Shriman Bantadhar), a sobriquet which instantly caught the voters' imagination.

Digvijay tried everything in Madhya Pradesh from dividing castes through the now infamous Dalit Agenda to emptying the state exchequer, from personally obliging people to protecting the corrupt.

He sought to sideline senior leaders — during the ticket distribution process and in campaigning. He cornered more than 60 per cent of party tickets but most of his men lost. He pitched himself as the lone star campaigner without realising that his credibility had hit rock bottom.

In some places, Congress workers returned posters depicting a smiling Digvijay waving to the people, fearing the voters' wrath.

If the Congress has lost Madhya Pradesh, all credit goes to Digvijay.

First Published: Dec 05, 2003 01:54 IST