Tribal PCC chief unnerves BJP in Madhya Pradesh
Posted April 25, 2011on:
Digvijay Singh has returned to the centre-stage in the Madhya Pradesh Congress. New PCC president Kantilal Bhuria and new Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Ajay Singh (Rahul Bhaiya), both are his protégés. According to the buzz in the party, the new State Youth Congress president is also likely to be Digvijay Singh’s nominee.
There was a perceptible change in the former chief minister’s demeanour and body language when he came to Bhopal to oversee Bhuria’s coronation. The other party leaders were also present to make it a unity show, the only discordant note having been played by Kamal Nath who withdrew from the rally before it reached the PCC office.
The new appointments seem to have unnerved the State BJP. Its leaders had developed a cosy relationship with the outgoing PCC chief Suresh Pachauri who had worked hard to ensure that no embarrassment should ever be caused to chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan. The discomfiture of Chauhan and State BJP president Prabhat Jha has of late been reflected in their immoderate language (this is not to suggest that they have hitherto been adherents of the decency in public life). Particularly disturbing to them is the appointment of Bhuria, a tribal from the Dhar-Jhabua region. The BJP has not allowed a tribal leader to gain prominence in the State which has a substantial population of the adivasis.
The 61-year-old Bhuria is the minister of tribal affairs at the Centre where he has not done anything spectacular. He has, however, maintained his grasp at the grassroots, feels comfortable among his people and always gives the impression of being genuinely concerned with the plight of the poor, the adivasis and the dalits. Why he has not been able to do much in spite of his holding important positions is not clear. Maybe, he was helpless before what Rahul Gandhi calls the “rotten system”.
With his charming smile and his artless approach, Bhuria is expected to enthuse confidence among the tribals, dalits and the other poorer sections and thus strengthen the support base of the Congress before the 2013 Assembly elections. His weak point is his inability to establish a rapport with the urban educated class, and especially the media. His prolonged exposure to the Delhi arena (he has been a member of Lok Sabha since 1998) has not made him articulate enough for the purpose of the urban media.
In this respect, Ajay Singh scores over Kantilal Bhuria. Ajay Singh has inherited his father Arjun Singh’s ambition without his erudition, scholarly bent of mind and understanding of politics. Digvijay Singh had entrusted him with important portfolios like tourism, panchayats and rural development in the Congress government but he handled these departments miserably. Equally pedestrian had been his performance as the chairman of the election campaign committee of the State Congress during the period preceding the 2008 elections.
Ajay Singh, however, has good equations with important media persons, mainly by virtue of being Arjun Singh’s son. These media persons can be held responsible to a certain extent for creating delusions of grandeur in his mind. After the rout of the Congress in 2003, he was projected as the next saviour of the Congress as he was sure to be appointed either the PCC chief or the Leader of Opposition. After the appointment of Subhash Yadav and Jamuna Devi to the two posts, respectively, Ajay Singh went into a sulk. In that black mood, he even went so see then BJP president Venkaiah Naidu in Delhi, giving rise to the rumours that he was joining the BJP which his hard core supporters did not deny unequivocally. Later he came out with a facetious explanation that he had gone to see the BJP president to discuss with him water harvesting as the “water is going to be the most scarce commodity and will be the cause of the Third World War it breaks out”.
While his detractors in the party are wondering whether Ajay Singh would be able to win the next Assembly election from his Churhat constituency in the absence of his father (it was a disastrous show in the entire Vindhya region in 2008), Ajay Singh has already started amusing himself and his cronies with the combination of circumstances that would catapult him into the chief minister’s chair after the 2013 elections.
In 1980, he is said to have told his supporters, Sunderlal Patwa of the BJP was the chief minister, Arjun Singh was the Leader of Opposition and a tribal from the Dhar-Jhabua region (Shivbhanu Singh Solanki) was the PCC chief. After the election, Arjun Singh became chief minister. Now Patwa’s protégé Shivraj Singh Chauhan of the BJP is the chief minister, Arjun Singh’s son is the Leader of Opposition and a tribal from the Dhar-Jhabua region (Kantilal Bhuria) is the PCC chief. So after the election, Arjun Singh’s son is going to be the chief minister. (What he fails to mention is that in 1980, Shivbhanu Singh Solanki was the choice of a majority of the MLAs and it was on Sanjay Gandhi’s direction that Arjun Singh was, instead, declared leader of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP).
Ajay Singh’s ambition is being whetted by Digvijay Singh also as he has been saying publicly for quite some time that Ajay Singh is the next chief minister of the State. Digvijay Singh, though, is not unaware of Ajay Singh’s shortcomings. Addressing the gathering at the PCC office after Bhuria had taken charge, Digvijay Singh looked at Ajay Singh and advised him to develop some skills of his father Arjun Singh.