Former Madhya Pradesh chief minister, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, on Wednesday came down heavily on the Congress for declining the invite to the Pran Pratishtha ceremony of Ram Lalla in Ayodhya on January 22.
Pitted against Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) citadel here, former state Congress chief Arun Yadav is confident of emerging a giant-killer, asserting the alarming rise of the “sand mafia” and the Vyapam examination scam will be the Chief Minister’s political Waterloo.
A former minister in the Manmohan Singh government at the Centre, he admits the battle against Chouhan on his home turf is “challenging” but insists the people’s anger against the BJP, particularly against the Chief Minister himself, will translate into votes for the Congress and bring the party to power in the state after 15 years.
“Misrule is the hallmark of the BJP government and corruption is the hallmark of the Chief Minister. Contesting against him on his home turf is certainly challenging, but then the 15 years of misrule, complete absence of development and all-pervasive corruption will bring about Chouhan’s and the BJP’s downfall,” Yadav told IANS in an interview.
Talking about his constituency in Sehore district, Yadav says Budhni reflects the real picture of the Chouhan government.
“On the one hand you have the sand mafia which has turned Sehore into a centre of crime. On the other hand you have no roads. The health infrastructure is in tatters. There is no employment. Budhni reflects the true picture of the state which has been ravaged by the BJP,” said the two-time Lok Sabha member.
Chouhan first won the Budhni seat in 1990. After a long tenure in the Lok Sabha, he returned to Budhni, where he was re-elected in 2006 and retained the seat in 2008 and 2013.
The rise of sand mafia in Sehore and corruption have been the focal points of Yadav’s campaign.
“The Vyapam scam will be Chouhan’s and BJP’s Waterloo,” said Yadav about the scandal concerning exams held by the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board or the Vyavasayik Pareeksha Mandal (Vyapam).
A high-decibel campaign witnessed Congress President Rahul Gandhi launching a frontal attack on Chauhan, alleging his involvement in the scam. The Congress has vowed to fast-track the probe into it if it came to power in the state — particularly into the “mysterious deaths” of a number of people connected to the scam and its investigation.
Talking about his and the Congress’ prospects, Yadav said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah’s sole focus on abusing the Nehru-Gandhi family and Congress-bashing were itself an admission of the BJP’s failure.
Modi, who never tired of talking about ‘vikas’ (development), is only indulging in abusing the Gandhi family and blaming the Congress for all ills. The fact that they are no more talking about vikas is testimony to the fact that there actually has been no development in Madhya Pradesh. You blame others only when you have nothing to show on the ground.
“The BJP has been in power in the state for the last 15 years. Thousands of farmers have committed suicide and you have the Prime Minister saying that farmers would not have been ruined had Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel been the country’s first Prime Minister,” said Yadav, pointing to Modi’s Saturday rally in Mandsaur — the epicentre of a farmers protests in June 2017 in which five farmers were killed in police firing.
He said the Congress’ promise of waiving farmers’ loans within 10 days of coming to power has created a wave of anticipation in a state marred by agrarian crises and regular farmer suicides.
While exuding confidence about the Congress coming to power in the state, Yadav, 44, expressed apprehension over the BJP using strong-arm tactics to influence the elections, particularly in Budhni.
Fifteen candidates are in the fray in Budhni, with both the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) fielding their candidates.
The 230-member Madhya Pradesh Assembly will go to the polls in a single phase on November 28, with the results out on December 11. An electorate of over five crore is eligible to vote.