Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh attempts comeback with Ekta Yatra ahead of Madhya Pradesh polls

Post Narmada Parikrama, former Madhya Pradesh chief minister and Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh is now on to his next mission: Ekta Yatra.

Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh attempts comeback with Ekta Yatra ahead of Madhya Pradesh polls

File image of former chief minister Digvijaya Singh. PTI

Though the date of initiating this new mission has not yet been disclosed, it’s expected to begin in the first week of May. Digvijaya’s objective behind this Ekta Yatra (journey for unity) is to regain the lost ground by reconnecting with old Congress workers across the state, prepare them for the forthcoming Assembly election in Madhya Pradesh and create an anti-Shivraj Singh Chouhan atmosphere by highlighting failures of the BJP government.

While his previous 3,300-kilometre Narmada Parikrama along the Narmada river intended at exploring the soft Hinduvta line, the Ekta Yatra is more about connecting with the electorate especially the backward castes and Dalits.

The six-month Narmada Parikrama began on 30 September, 2017, and concluded on 9 April. According to Congress sources, the roadmap of the Ekta Yatra has been finalised. “The road map is ready. He’ll visit up to block-level. Party’s social media team will also play up this yatra on various platforms”, a source said.

Recently, Madhya Pradesh witnessed Dalit protests on 2 April during Bharat Bandh which resulted in six deaths. The state also witnessed a farmers’ agitation in 2017, where six people were killed in police firing at Mandsaur district.

“Digvijaya ji will visit all the 166 Assembly seats of the BJP and showcase the failures of the government. He will highlight issues such as agrarian distress, suffering of Dalits and rampant corruption”, a source associated with the Digvijaya camp told Firstpost.

One may recall that at the end of the Narmada Parikrama, Digvijaya said with the completion of his auspicious journey, a religious and spiritual exercise, his political journey would begin. During his journey, Digvijaya remarked that he got evidence of illegal sand mining and people provided him documents and proof.

Once known as political mentor of Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Digvijaya —a two-term Madhya Pradesh chief minister and a descendant of erstwhile royal family of Raghogarh — has become active in state politics once again. “I’m a politician and that’s what I’ll do after I complete my parikrama”, he'd said.

Digvijaya had been out of active state politics since he'd lost to the BJP in 2003. Though he made it clear that he doesn’t aim to be chief minister, regaining lost ground is the most important objective of this yatra. “I want to strengthen the party in the state”, Digvijaya remarked.

The last phase of Digvijaya as chief minister witnessed severe grievances and anger among people of Madhya Pradesh on various issues: From poor governance to deteriorating infrastructure. The BJP came to power by showcasing Digvijaya government’s failure: Severe shortage of electricity, poor condition of roads and lack of water supply to farmers. As a result, the BJP government has been in power for the past 15 years.

Though this new initiative has been viewed as Digvijaya's personal effort — much like the Narmada Parikrama — it’ll be backed by the party. According to sources, Digvijaya has kept Congress high command in the loop. A large number of Congress MLAs and workers are looking forward to it.

“He’s our senior most leader in Madhya Pradesh. We all will support him for whatever he does for the party. We’ll do whatever he asks us to do for the party and the state. His yatra is aimed at reconnecting with Congress workers who are either annoyed or have taken a backseat or have become inactive”, Bhopal-based Congress leader and spokesperson JP Dhanopia told Firstpost.

To draw national attention, Digvijaya recently wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of the latter’s visit to tribal district Mandla on 24 April. Modi visited Jabalpur followed by Mandla as a part Panchayati Raj Divas celebration. Digvijaya wrote to Modi asking that payments under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act be released to labourers in Madhya Pradesh's tribal districts.

While the Congress hasn’t yet finalised its chief ministerial nominee for Madhya Pradesh, it remains to be seen how far Digvijaya Singh succeeds in winning back the confidence of the people.

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Updated Date: Apr 24, 2018 20:38:45 IST

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