Bhuria discovers the rot
Posted July 11, 2011on:
Rattled by the Congress defeat in the Jabera Assembly by-election in Damoh district, PCC president Kantilal Bhuria said that he had received reports about a senior party leader having sabotaged the party prospects. Not only that, Bhuria also stated that some Congress leaders had for five or six years been working in conjunction with the ruling BJP leaders to further their own interests and jeopardising the interests of the Congress Party. Action, he promised, would be initiated against them.
Jabera was the fourth consecutive defeat of the Congress in Assembly by-elections, three of the seats having been previously held by the Congress leaders of eminence. Kukshi was the traditional seat of Leader of Opposition Jamuna Devi whose death had caused the by-election; Sonkutch had fallen vacant following former minister Sajjan Singh Verma’s election to Lok Sabha. Jabera was previously represented in the Assembly by former minister and important Christian leader Ratnesh Solomon whose sudden death had necessitated the by-election. The Kukshi and Sonkutch by-elections were held, and lost by the Congress, under the stewardship of Suresh Pachauri. Jabera was the first after AICC general secretary and former chief minister Digvijay Singh had got nominated Kantilal Bhuria as the PCC president and Ajay Singh (Rahul Bhaiya) as the Leader of Opposition.
The Congress had fielded Ratnesh’s 26-year-old daughter Tanya Solomon, a medical practitioner. The Congress was hoping to create a sympathy wave but it could not; the party continues to be totally disorganised. It seems the people have not yet re-accepted the leadership of Digvijay Singh on whom they had inflicted a humiliating defeat in 2003; nor has his social engineering of having a tribal as the PCC chief and a Thakur as the Leader of Opposition made any difference.
Tanya polled almost the same number of votes as her father had done in 2008. The Congress leaders can claim little credit for that. It was because Ratnesh Solomon had been active in the area for a long time and enjoyed certain goodwill of the people who transferred their support to his daughter. She received 42,108 votes (out of a total of 1, 23,502 votes polled) while Ratnesh Solomon had received 41,379 (out of 1, 21,723 votes polled). BJP candidate Dashrath Lodhi increased his support base considerably; he received 53,846 as against 39,617 in 2008.
Bhuria has not revealed a secret by stating about the ‘unholy alliance’ between some Congress leaders and BJP leaders but he is the first important party leader to admit it publicly. No one in the party, however, takes him seriously when he says that action will be initiated against those who have been working against the interests of the party. Shivraj Singh Chauhan’s imprint on the working of the Congress party had been much too visible from the day one when Chauhan, after resigning his Lok Sabha membership, contested the Budhni by-election to enter the Assembly. the party leaders in Delhi have been kept posted with the goings-on in the Congress in Madhya Pradesh. Bhuria will have to find first why the Congress High Command had been indulgent all these years.
It is not yet clear how the new dispensation is going to rejuvenate the Congress. Bhuria may be a well meaning person but he has never been known to assert either as party leader or as minister (he still continues to be a member of the Union cabinet). Ajay Singh, the other nominee of Digvijay Singh, is always obsessed with his own importance and lacks perspective. The AICC observers who make their guest appearance whenever something happens, like the recent Jabera debacle, have apparently no knowledge of the conditions on the ground in this sprawling State with divergent cultures and traditions in different regions. Madhya Pradesh for them means Bhopal.
They sit, along with Bhuria and a few others, in a posh hotel and decide who should be the president of the District Congress Committees. Then they get the names endorsed by Sonia Gandhi. In making the selection of DCC presidents, the emphasis is on the caste. The PCC president recently announced the names of 34 DCC presidents (of course, approved by Sonia Gandhi) with the following caste break-up: general 12; backward classes 10; minorities (Muslims and Jains ) 5; ST 4; Sikh, Guajarati and Sindhi one each; they include three women, two from SC and one from general category.
That’s how the Congress is preparing to meet the challenge of the BJP in 2013.