Congress MP and former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijay Singh’s 3,200-km-long Narmada Parikrama (walk along the banks of the Narmada river) will end at the river’s Barman Ghat in Narsinghpur district on 9 April.
Thousands of Congress leaders, workers and his supporters will gather for the closing ceremony from across the state and the country. “Hundreds of Congress workers from across the Gwalior region will attend the closing ceremony,” said Ashok Singh, vice-president of state Congress.
Digvijay’s spiritual guru, Shankaracharya Swami Swaroopanand, will be present on the occasion. Digvijay had undertaken this arduous Yatra on the advice of his spiritual guru.
The Parikrama of the Narmada, Madhya Pradesh’s lifeline began also from Barman Ghat at the Jhoteshwar Ashram of the Shankaracharya on 30 September last year. Digvijay Singh’s wife, Amrita Rai, has also been walking around 15 km to 18 km daily with him during the 192-day yatra. They have covered around 3,200 km by foot.
Hundreds of supporters and local join the yatra. They spend the night at villages or towns on the banks of the river. Singh and his wife sow flower seeds during their journey to beautify the river.
They begin the Parikrama with ‘Aarti’ (lightning of lamps) of Man Narmada every morning. MLA from Raghaogarh and Digvijay Singh’s son Jaivardhan Singh joins the yatra when he has the time.
Digvijay Singh, erstwhile king of Raghaogarh state under the Scindia Residency which is currently part of Gwalior division, belongs to the Khichi clan whose king, Sant Pipa Bhagat, transformed into a spiritual leader in the 15th century. Sant Pipa devotional hymns are incorporated in the Guru Granth Sahib.
“This is a purely non-political, religious and spiritual journey of my life. We walk around 15-18 km everyday,” Digvijay Singh said. He said he would return to active politics after completion of the Parikrama.
Recognising the political overtones of Singh’s purported spiritual journey, during which he has covered at least 110 Assembly constituencies of the state, his colleagues in the Madhya Pradesh Congress are worried. This has compelled senior Madhya Pradesh Congress leaders, including Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia, to join the yatra.
Singh’s yatra comes ahead of Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh this year. The Congress hopes to unseat the Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led BJP government which has held power in the state since 2003.
“The response to Singh’s Yatra will embolden the state Congress as well its workers further to fight against the BJP in upcoming Assembly polls at the end of the year,” said Rajnish Singh, Congress MLA from Keolari constituency.