Rajat Sharma


AKB30 Electoral politics is now on the boil in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Telangana, but a video of MP Congress chief Kamal Nath has not only become viral on social media, but it had also repercussions, when Kamal Nath and senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh indulged in banter laced with sarcasm about the video in front of media at the state party office. One of the supporters of two-term MLA Virendra Raghuvanshi had made a video of Kamal Nath telling supporters of this leader to tear the kurtas of Digivijaya Singh and his son Jaivardhan Singh for not being given the ticket. Raghuvanshi had quit the BJP a few weeks ago and had jointed Congress on September 2, but he failed to get a party ticket. At the press conference called for launch of the party manifesto, Kamal Nath clarified why he told supporters to tear Digvijaya Singh’s clothes. Digvijaya Singh, who was sitting on the rostrum, intervened, and asked: “Bhai, whose signatures are there on Form A and B? the PCC President’s. Then whose clothes should be torn (for denying ticket)?” Kamal Nath replied: “My relations with Digvijaya Singh is not political, we have light bantering between us. We have affection for each other. I have given you power of attorney and you will take all the abuses for Kamal Nath and that power of attorney is valid even today.” Digvijaya Singh retorted: “And you should also listen, who is making mistakes, people should know.” Kamal Nath replied: “Whether mistakes are made or not, we have to hear abuses, but our relations are so old, it is family relationship, not political… You have already taken bitter sips of poison in the past, and will have to take in future also.” By making this light banter, Digvijaya Singh showed the mirror to Kamal Nath in front of the media. All his replies were laced with full of sarcasm. From the banter, it was clear that Digivijaya Singh was not happy with Kamal Nath telling supporters to tear his clothes. Digivijaya Singh posted the entire conversation on social media, and added an Urdu couplet: “Be-taqalluf woh auron se hain, Naaz uthaane ko hum rah gaye hain” (She is impolite before others, it is for me to bear with her airs/whims). Digvijay Singh’s unhappeness is justified. The BJP MLA from Kolaras Virendra Raghuvanshi wanted to contest from Shivpuri, but ticket was given to veteran Congressman K P Singh. Raghuvanshi’s supporters staged protest outside Kamal Nath’s house, and the latter told them that it was Digvijaya Singh who gave the ticket to K P Singh and they should go and protest and tear the clothes of him and his son Jaivardhan Singh. Kamal Nath did not know that one of the supporters was making a video on the sly and it soon became viral. Digvijaya Singh immediately expressed his unhappiness on social media, and BJP leaders made fun of the duo. People who understand Madhya Pradesh politics know it well that Digvijaya and Kamal Nath have been rivals in the past, but because of assembly elections, they are appearing together in public. This video can break their unity. Kamal Nath tried to ignore this by indulging in light banter at the press conference. Whatever Kamal Nath may say, there is unhappiness among many Congress leaders for being denied tickets. At the manifesto launch event on Tuesday, party workers were chanting slogans against candidates fielded in Datia, Jatara and Budhni constituencies. State Congress media cell vice-president Ajay Singh Yadav has quit the party alleging that leadership has not given justice to backward caste workers. Another Congress leader Yadavendra Singh joined Bahujan Samaj Party after being denied ticket from Nagoda. In the key constituency of Budhni, where Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan is contesting, Congress has fielded Vikram Mastal, an actor who does Hanuman’s role at Ramlila. Local Congress leaders describe him as “a parachute candidate”. In Ujjain, Maya Trivedi’s candidature is being opposed because she had lost the Lok Sabha poll by several lakh votes and the assembly poll by 30,000 votes last time. In Indian politics, it is normal for leaders and their supporters to stage protests whenever ticket is denied. This is nothing new. It happens in all political parties. It is also normal that top leaders shift the blame on their rivals whenever anybody is denied a ticket. But this is the first time that a state party chief is telling workers to tear the clothes of a senior party colleague. This is really embarrassing for Kamal Nath. Circulation of such a video can badly affect the morale of Congress workers during the elections. Both Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh realize this. That is why, they tried to pass it off with light banter in public. But BJP leaders are preparing to go to town with this video and play it before the voters. Congress is trying to douse this internal fire by focusing more on 1,290 guarantees given in its Vachan Patra (manifesto) released on Tuesday. The guarantees include Rs 25 lakh health cover for people, monthly Rs 1,500 to Rs 3,000 allowance to unemployed youths, Rs one lakh for marriage of girls, Rs 2,51,000 assistance under Bitiya Rani Yojana, Rs 500 to Rs 1,500 per month for school children, Rs 1,200 per month social security pension, etc. It is nothing short of a poll bonanza for youths, women, children, elderly people and other sections. Monthly assistance to school children alone will entail a cost of Rs 7,500 crore for the state exchequer. Fulfilling all these promises may require several lakh crores of rupees, but the state government does not have this kind of a budget. The question is: Whether the promises will be fulfilled? Nobody is ready to tell from where the money is going to come. Congress has been out of power for the last two decades, and it is trying its best to return to power. It is making all kinds of promises, left and right.

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