MP Congress leaders moving towards showdown
Posted July 22, 2009on:
Manak Agrawal, whether he holds an office in the Madhya Pradesh Congress or not, seems to be the most powerful and feared person. He is at present at the centre of a controversy which is moving towards a showdown between the warring chieftains in the organisation.
There is no plausible explanation for re-admitting Inder Prajapat into the Congress except that Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president Suresh Pachauri wanted to take on Manak Agrawal. Manak was a PCC general secretary till some time back when he was removed by Pachauri who had suspected Manak’s hand behind a scurrilous article about Pachauri in a Hindi journal recently.
A day after Prajapat’s re-admission into the Congress was announced in Bhopal, AICC general secretary and former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh announced in Delhi that this was absolutely wrong and that he was writing to AICC general secretary in-charge of Madhya Pradesh affairs B.K.Hariprasad to rescind the decision. Hariprasad later told media persons in Bhopal that the party high command would take the final decision on Inder Prajapat. It has thus become a prestige issue for both, Digvijay Singh and Suresh Pachauri.
Prajapat, then a general secretary of the PCC, had, one fine July morning in 2001, walked into the Nishat Colony (Bhopal) bungalow of Manak Agrawal, also a PCC general secretary, shot him twice with his licensed pistol and then driven to the T.T.Nagar police station, about a kilometre away, where he was put under arrest under Section 307 IPC (attempt to murder).
Prajapat was said to have married a 24-year-old dancer of Ujjain, Vidyut Kushwah, without divorcing his first wife and had kept it a secret. A news item about Prajapat’s marriage with Vidyut was carried by a Bhopal newspaper and then picked up by another newspaper of Indore from where Prajapat hails. He reportedly suspected that Manak had leaked the news about his secret marriage.
Manak was picking flowers in his lawn for morning puja when Prajapat walked in there and wished him good morning. Then he shot at Manak almost at point blank range. Before leaving Manak’s house, he was reported to have melodramatically announced: “Acchha Manakbhai, chalate hain” (OK Manakbhai, leaving now).
While one of the bullets had just grazed Manak’s chin, the other bullet had lodged into his neck. He was rushed to the State-owned Hamidia Hospital and an emergency operation was carried on him to remove the bullet. He gradually recovered and was back in the PCC.
Then PCC President Radha Kishan Malaviya had removed Prajapat from the post of the PCC General Secretary and had later expelled him from the party for six years. Additional Sessions Judge Abhay Kumar had sentenced him to rigorous imprisonment for seven years and fined him Rs 10,000 for the attack on Manak. Prajapat appealed in the High Court against the sentence.
After Prajapat’s arrest for the attack on Manak, Digvijay Singh was said to have quietly visited his parents in Indore and assured them all help.
Manak had alleged that the conspiracy to kill him was hatched at the residence of PCC president Radha Kishan Malaviya (a trusted man of Digvijay Singh). He had even moved an application in the court of the Additional Sessions Judge to make Malaviya a co-accused in the case but it was rejected by the judge
Inder Prajapat, meanwhile, joined Uma Bharati’s Bharatiya Jana Shakti (BJS) and was its general secretary when Pachauri decided to take him back into the Congress. The argument given was that Prajapat was expelled from the Congress for six years and he had completed that period and had expressed his desire to rejoin the Congress.
Then chief minister Digvijay Singh had spotted Prajapat not for his organisational skills but for his guts and muscles. At his instance, then PCC president Radha Kishan Malaviya had taken Prajapat into the Congress and made him general secretary in charge of the organisation. Digvijay wanted to use Prajapat to “deal” with those in the organisation who were being troublesome. Manak Agrawal was one of them but not the only one. (Suffice to say that Manak had once annoyed Digvijay Singh so much that the then chief minister had taken his grouse against Manak to then Prime Minister and Congress President Narasimha Rao).
Manak knows a lot about the Congress and Congressmen in the State, is communicative, cooperative, and always available and, therefore, a darling of the media. Those at the helm of affairs in the organisation have found it difficult to keep Manak too near to them because Manak then overshadows them and their acolytes. And keeping Manak discontented is inviting disaster.
After he was sent as PCC president to Bhopal early last year, one of the first tasks of Pachauri was to remove Manak from the chief spokesman’s position. Pachauri realised his mistake soon afterwards and took him back. But the relations between the two remained tense throughout. Pachauri keeps himself surrounded by such people as are known neither for their organisational skills nor for their mass base. Similarly, he had packed the PCC with the mediocre. He has almost an antipathy for journalists. All the bad publicity that Pachauri had been getting was thus credited to Manak.
Since Manak was standing up to Pachauri, he became a natural ally of Digvijay Singh whose aversion for Pachauri is not a secret. The Congress organisation in Madhya Pradesh had for over a quarter century been dominated by the Thakurs, Arjun Singh and Digvijay Singh being the most prominent of them. Pachauri, a Brahman, was the beneficiary of BSP Supremo Mayawati’s successful social engineering in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. The Congress high command realised the importance of the Brahman leaders in the organisation. However, the choice of Pachauri was not a sound one because he awfully lacks the qualities of a mass leader as 18 months of his stewardship of the Madhya Pradesh Congress has shown.
Re-induction of Inder Prajapat into the Congress at this stage does not seem to serve any purpose except to further annoy Manak Agrawal and help Pachauri’s detractors, the Thakurs, become active again to regain the lost paradise. Digvijay Singh, who sees no use of Inder Prajapat now and finds in Manak an ally, has taken the first step to undo what Pachauri has done (in re-admitting Prajapat).