Why Digvijaya Singh’s Bhopal Candidature Is Giving The BJP Sleepless Nights
Singh, the former CM of MP, has been deftly attacking the saffron party on many facets while promising the electorate of better governance.
In the ongoing Lok Sabha polls, the Bharatiya Janata Party may have erred when it fielded Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, an accused in the Malegaon bomb blast case, against Digvijaya Singh, a senior Congress leader and twice chief minister of Madhya Pradesh. The battle of Bhopal has, of course, turned into a battle of narratives — Congress’s agrarian distress, unemployment, education, healthcare versus the BJP’s aggressive Hindutva. With polling less than a fortnight away on May 12, let’s look at the factors that will advantage the Congress party.
– The Bhartiya Janata Party has been winning the Bhopal Lok Sabha seat since 1989. By fielding Digvijaya Singh, the Congress has played a bold move, one that aims to end the BJP hold on Bhopal. This move has rattled the BJP.
– Sensing a possible defeat against a seasoned politician, who is also one of the most prominent leaders of the Congress party, the BJP decided to replace an incumbent member of parliament — Alok Sanjar — with a far-Right Hindutva icon. It’s noteworthy that in 2014, Alok Sanjar had polled 7.15 lakh votes while the Congress candidate had just managed 3.44 lakh votes.
– In this fight, besides the Congress party, almost the Left, too, has rallied round Digvijaya Singh, backing his fight against Pragya Thakur.
– CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury is scheduled to address a rally in Bhopal on May 2, while D Raja of CPI addressed a rally on May Day, seeking votes for the Congress candidate for the Bhopal Lok Sabha seat.
– Sadhvi Pragya’s hateful remarks referring to the late police officer and the Chief of ATS Mumbai, Hemant Karkare, has backfired on her and the saffron party. Karkare was a celebrated police officer who was martyred in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack.
– Several politicians, Indian Police Service association and many others have condemned the remarks. Digvijaya Singh said that Sadhvi Pragya should have cursed terrorist Masood Azhar. Then, the Indian army would not have had to carry out the surgical strike.
– BJP leader Fatima Siddiqui’s refusal to campaign for Sadhvi Pragya Thakur has only added to the party’s worries. In the Bhopal Lok Sabha constituency, Muslims form nearly 26 per cent of the total vote share.
– Digvijaya Singh is aware of the fact that Bhopal has been one of the most challenging constituencies for his party. He said that all his life, he has loved challenges.
– Bhopal has seen a rise in lawlessness and a number of unfulfilled promises under the Bhartiya Janta Party regime in the last two decades, under the leadership of Sushil Chandra Verma, Uma Bharti, Kailash Joshi and Alok Sanjar.
– Running on a plank of development, the Congress stalwart has released a separate document titled ‘Bhopal Vision’ with the slogan “Samridh Bhopal, Samarth Bhopal”, in which he has promised all-round growth of the city. The manifesto shows a clear vision of the veteran leader for the city of Nawabs.
– Singh’s manifesto calls for the resurrection of Bhopal, and it seems to have given hope to many sections of the electorate. He has promised to develop Bhopal as a tourism hub, with faster air connectivity and corridors linking the city to other major centres.
– Singh has also promised to make Bhopal a mega logistics hub, an IT city, and a food processing centre. He has also pledged amenities for the differently abled and the conservation of the famed Bhopal lake.
– Singh has pledged to revive the glory of the city. He has promised to develop the city as a sports hub — Bhopal was once known for its sportsmen. He also promised a super speciality hospital, water for all and sports amenities.
– The candidature of Digvijaya Singh has re-energised the party cadre. No one would deny the fact that no other leader in Madhya Pradesh could match Digvijay Singh in terms of presence across the network.
– Singh has successfully woven his campaign narrative of “development” with hard-hitting questions to the BJP. He never forgets to highlight his 3,300 Kilometer Narmada Parikarma by foot between 2017 and 2018, which has only increased the BJP’s nervousness.
– The BJP and PM Modi have been dodging questions, and the media has been complicit in letting the main issues that concern the country get sidelined, said Singh in an interview, adding that his election is on issues which matter to people of Bhopal in particular and the people of India.