Chhindwara/Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, N Making a ‘celebration’ of poverty used to a communists legacy, say a section of citizenry even as they lament that trying to copy this cult of politics will not serve long term and lasting interest for the Congress.
Dulal Maity, a Bengali resident in Jabalpur, describes himself as a ‘boy’ from erstwhile Marxists’ family in Chandannagar in West Bengal. The 45-year-old entrepreneur says he was sent out from Kolkata on a ‘punishment’ posting seven years back, but now he is settled in Jabalpur and is happy about it.
“Dukhho Vilashita (Celebrating poverty and tough life)’ used to be a phenomenon in West Bengal during long communists’ rule. Apparently, the Congress has copied that feature of anti-establishment politics and this is just meaningless,” he says.
Maity denies he is a BJP admirer but hastens to add he is a big time Narendra Modi fan though because his politics is “relevant for Hindus and progressive Indians”.
“It is an era of entrepreneurship skill. People who say I don’t have job and blame government for this do not belong to this era. One must learn to stay away from home and work hard,” he emphasises, adding that the Congress is “just copying” the communists politics and want to keep country back in those years when even ‘unemployment’ was taken as a ‘victim’ and “fashion statement”.
Asked to elaborate further, he says it is true the BJP is on defensive for ensuing November 28 elections on certain issues, but says the people in general appreciate the problems and challenges of our time.
“For my kind of business, I deal with farmers and also brokers. Rural dissatisfaction against Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s government was at its height during farmers’ protest and also police firing,” he says.
Like Maity many residents in Chhindwara or Jabalpur – two vulnerable political hubs – recall with anguish that five farmers were killed in Mandsaur in police firing.
The reference is to June 2017 police action wherein reportedly the protesting farmers, demanding loan waiver and who had allegedly set ablaze 25 trucks and two police vans along the Mhow-Neemuch Highway.
This section of electorate feels people’s anguish or farmers’ agony is one thing; but to make political capital out of hardship is another – and perhaps also erroneous.
Endorsing the sentiment as ventilated by Maity, another local resident Dhirendra Singh says
“The Congress should not forget their government too was hardly better. During Digvijaya Singh government, united Madhya Pradesh suffered from immense power crisis. Such a situation had led to near decimation of cash crop cultivation such as soyabean. People of Mahakoshal region remember all these”.
He too says he is not pro-BJP voter and adds that in effect he hardly votes. “This time, I can vote for NOTA. That seems to be a good option,” he says.
Others also say over the years, the saffron party has made deeper penetration in rural areas expanding base amongst SC, ST and OBC. “One good thing about BJP politics has been, they keep it on positive plank. Some promises can never be fulfilled, but still you need to look ahead,” says one of them.
“The Congress trying to fall back on good old socialistic pattern of politics where government will do everything make me wonder, whether it is the same party that brought in economic liberalisation under P V Narasimha Rao,” says Maity.
Many say, the perception that the developmental works suffered during Digvijaya Singh rule adds to the anti-Congress vote, and certainly, substantial number of them could go to BJP even as multi-cornered contests also mean votes would get divided among Independents and others.
Voters in these segments also understand the significance of the ensuing Madhya Pradesh polls.
“Among all things, the fallout of elections would also determine the future of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and also Congress leaders Kamal Nath and to an extent of Digvijay Singh,” says a Chhindwara-based Congress worker.
He also avers that despite all the ‘positive news’ for the BJP due to its past performance, the upbeat mood remains countered when voters point out that “now upper caste Hindus” are displeased with the party’s policy towards the Dalits vis-a-vis SC-ST Act.
“The BJP can impress some voters in some places, but its support is waning in this region,” he claims.
But in some pockets, people say the Congress too is on defensive line. At places, a few Congress
leaders have in last few days also tried to raise the bogey of faulty EVMs – of course only to be ridiculed by the BJP.
Moreover, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally in Chhindwara on Sunday is being seen as a major
changer in favour of the saffron party.
But, BJP workers also share the pessimistic views at times. One of them admitted in private that due to 15-year-long rule in the state, the Congress slogan ‘Waqt hae Badlav ka (Time for Change)’ is showing impact and can reflect anti incumbency mood against the Chief Minister Chouhan.