Madhya Pradesh: Isolated at home, Digvijaya gets a political lifeline
The move to elevate Digvijaya Singh is apparently aimed at keeping the party united for the Lok Sabha elections due before May.
Bhopal: Former chief minister Digvijaya Singh who was in the eye of a storm for allegedly sabotaging his rivals’ prospects during the recent assembly elections in the state has been rewarded with a Rajya Sabha nomination from Madhya Pradesh. The news comes just a week after the Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi fretted and fumed over the role of the state satraps in the party’s disastrous performance over the past decade. Gandhi’s cup of disappointment with the state unit brimmed over when the he confronted the same questions over the performance different factions.
He had threatened the faction leaders with 'demotion' if the party fared poorly in their areas of influence. The reward to Digvijaya Singh therefore surprised his rivals. There has been a growing clamour for action against him since the elections though all faction leaders failed to show any spectacular results. The nomination of PCC chief and the leader of the Congress legislature party leader from the rival camp pointed to his marginalisation. The latest move apparently restores the balance in favour of his faction which has dominated the party during the past decade. Digvijaya had gone into a ten-year self-exile after the party’s worst defeat under his leadership in 2003 assembly election at the hands of the BJP.
The move to elevate him is apparently aimed at keeping the party united for the Lok Sabha elections due before May. Digvijaya, who keeps hogging the attention with his anti-RSS tirade, had also offered to contest the Lok Sabha elections from anywhere in the state. But that was an empty boast. On his home turf of Rajgarh the Congress has lost six of the eight seats. Digvijaya had offered to contest any other seat that Rajgarh saying he doesn’t want the present MP Narayan Singh Amlabe to be denied ticket. His supporters say his name was proposed for Sagar, where the caste equations favour him. Digvijaya, who has often said he considered Rajya Sabha nomination to be a backdoor entry to Parliament, was keen to take on Sushma Swaraj from Vidisha. He still doesn’t rule out contesting the Lok Sabha elections.
With just 58 MLAs in a House of 230 the Congress can’t hope to send more than one candidate to the Upper House from Madhya Pradesh. The names of former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dixit, national president of the party’s women’s wing Shobha Ojha and the new MPCC chief Arun Yadav were also under consideration. Though the Congress remained in power at the Centre throughout Digvijaya’s "political exile" he remained out of the ministry. His supporters say he was close to Rahul Gandhi and was therefore assigned a significant role in strategy formulation in Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Backstage he is said to be negotiating for an electoral tie-up with Lalu Prasad and Ramvilas Paswan in Bihar.
The party headquarters in Bhopal has been a happening place over the past ten days. Sadly, however, the happenings have caused headaches for the leadership. A day after he presided over the first state executive meeting the newly-appointed MPCC chief Arun Yadav had to suspend his close associate and state secretary Jagdish Yadav for reportedly calling Digvijaya an "inauspicious" person. Even during the executive meeting Jagdish is said to have demanded the latter’s expulsion.
Getting a whiff of Jagdish Yadav’s outburst during the meeting the media sought his comments. He ended putting his foot in the mouth with a one-liner, "On this auspicious day I don’t want to talk about an inauspicious person." There was more drama with Digvijaya writing to the PCC chief to drop action against Jagdish Yadav.
"He (Jagdish} is a senior party member and I am not offended by his comments," Singh is learnt to have written. Singh’s 'sagacious' response fetched him his reward while Jagdish’s suspension continues.
With discontent still simmering in the party Arun Yadav has proposed another three-day gathering to provide members a chance to air their views. Losers of 2008 and 2013 elections would be asked to present their grievances. There is a section that wants youths to be given a chance to contest the seats where the party lost with big margin. The Congress had won 12 out a total of 29 Lok Sabha seats from Madhya Pradesh.
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