Bhopal, Oct 1 (IANS): The Madhya Pradesh BJP unit has contested three consecutive state assembly elections making former chief minister Digvijaya Singh its main target, projecting him as 'bantadhar' and his tenure (1993-2003) as 'jungle raj'.
Surprisingly, even when the BJP is contesting the upcoming assembly elections under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, instead of the longest serving chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, the saffron party targeted the Congress on the same issue as two decades back.
The word 'bantadhar' for Digvijaya Singh was used by former CM Uma Bharati during the 2008 assembly elections, and the BJP continued to do the same even though its leadership changed to the incumbent CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan in 2008, 2013, 2018 and now in 2023.
Political observers claimed that the BJP kept Digvijaya Singh as its main target because of two reasons - first that it has nothing much to target the Congress with (except for a brief period of Kamal Nath) and the second and more important is the 'fear factor' of his strategies on the ground.
For instance, after losing the elections in 2003, Digvijaya Singh kept himself outside the state's politics, but, when he came back in 2018 under the leadership of Kamal Nath, the BJP that won in 2013 despite the 'Vyapam scam' surfacing before the elections, lost in 2018.
Congress leaders who spoke to IANS accepted that Digvijaya Singh till has a strong connection with the party’s ground workers because he always keeps the door open for them. “What is more important is that, Digvijaya Singh works like a party worker and not as a big leader even after spending over 40 years in politics. He would fight for party workers on the ground and take quick decisions. BJP leaders know he can decode its strategy, which is why they keep the main focus on him.” said a Congress worker.
Those who observed Digvijaya’s politics closely, said he is down to earth and equally at ease with the urban and local voters. Senior journalist N. K Singh said, “Digvijaya Singh is a more devout Hindu in his personal space. He regularly visits places like Pandharpur and Tirupati and observes many fasts throughout the year. But he is also overtly critical of the RSS, the BJP, and the Hindutva it practises.”
For the upcoming elections, he has been asked to concentrate on 66 Assembly seats the party has repeatedly lost. His task includes placating dissenting voices and re-energising the cadres. In 2017, he concluded Narmada Parikrama, the circumambulation of the sacred river on foot, over months. After being named the chairman of the Congress Coordination Committee in the state, he undertook a yatra but it did not gain much traction.
A former minister and sitting Congress MLA, Digvijaya Singh, who used to be the main political challenger for Kamal Nath’s politics in Madhya Pradesh, is now his most trusted colleague.
“It is a fact that Kamal Nath takes every decision and will reject the proposals that are not suited for his politics but he takes the final decision after getting approval from Digvijaya Singh. Even on selecting candidates for the upcoming assembly elections, Kamal Nath would make final approval of each name after Digvijaya’s approval, because the latter knows who can revolt against the party’s decision," a former minister said on condition of anonymity.