Madhya Pradesh Congress leader and its presumptive chief ministerial candidate Jyotiraditya Scindia reportedly moves around the state wearing garlands made of lemons and chillies. For those who have had the misfortune of sitting through horror flicks made by the Ramsay Brothers in the 90s and later the Phoonks and Bhoots churned out by Bollywood, lemons and chillies mean just one thing: The desire to ward off evil spirits and spells.
So, what exactly is Scindia trying to protect himself against?
A few days ago, Scindia threw a coconut offered to him at Panna out of his car window. When the BJP termed this sacrilege — yes, that’s how silly the campaign is — his team responded by claiming that the coconut carried a spell of black magic and, thus, was a threat to Scindia and the party. Ergo, it had to be thrown out. There you go, then. Scindia is wary of black magic.
The Congress feels the BJP has some tantriks in its fold who, like Saruman the White, are out to destroy their leaders with black magic even before their lords step into the electoral ring. But, as the saying goes, why does the Congress need enemies like black magic when it has friends capable of destroying themselves? For the first time in two decades, the Congress has a fairly good chance of beating the BJP. Three back-to-back tenures have generated apathy towards incumbent chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
Firing on farmers in Mandsaur, increasing joblessness, stagnant businesses and the prospects of an alliance with the BSP have combined to build favourable conditions for the Congress. But, the party seems to be following the script of Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs: There is complete distrust and a latent desire to finish off internal rivals. In July, Congress general secretary in-charge of Madhya Pradesh, Deepak Bawaria, was attacked by Congress workers after he said only Kamal Nath and Scindia were candidates for the chief minister's job. This incensed supporters of party stalwart Ajay Singh — Bawaria had the audacity to say this in Singh's backyard Reewa — and led to the ugly spectacle of the Congress in-charge walking out in a torn kurta.
A few days later, Congress workers clashed again in front of Bawaria, forcing the latter to put his foot in the mouth. Tormented by the melee, Bawaria advised Congress workers to learn from the disciplined cadres of the RSS, causing despair within the Congress and glee in the BJP. On the ground, the Congress is finding it difficult to match the energy in the BJP camp. Since he began his Jan Aashirwad Yatra, Chouhan has been drawing big crowds. He is also exuding confidence and attacking the Congress with relentless ferocity.
The Congress, on the other hand, is biding time, hamstrung by the lack of resources to sustain a long, expensive campaign. Its president Rahul Gandhi is expected to launch the campaign from the famous Hindu shrine of Omkareshwar at the end of August. Till then, the only message the Congress is sending out is that of a divided house and competing ambitions. This has forced people to ask if they are busy beating each other up, how they plan to beat the BJP.
And when they are not fighting, the Congress workers come up with hilarious stunts that draw just jibes and laughters.
On Sunday, its workers decided to hold a protest inspired by the proverbial playing of flute in front of a buffalo (implying utter indifference and apathy of the Chouhan government towards the state). So, a buffalo was summoned, flutes were arranged in Dewas — midway between Indore and Bhopal — to register the angst of the electorate. Unfortunately, the piece de resistance of the show, the buffalo, got upset and attacked some Congress workers, turning them hors de combat before the big battle slated for November-December.
The talk within the Congress is that a grand alliance with the BSP, JD(U) led by Sharad Yadav, SP and NCP will take on the BJP. Its leaders are confident of stitching up the Mahagathbandhan before elections are announced. But, all that seems far away with different factions within the party fighting in public. Scindia might be moving around with lemons and chillies to ward off black magic.
But, what he really needs to win the election is a video of the popular item song from the film Dabangg to remind that the party needs to be glued together — Fevicol se.
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Updated Date: Aug 13, 2018 13:12:28 IST