‘Ya­tra pol­i­tics’ gath­ers pace in MP as elec­tion fever rises

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - - NATION - Neeraj San­toshi neeraj.san­toshi@hin­dus­tan­times.com

CAM­PAIGN MANTRA Both the BJP and Cong are re­ly­ing on road shows to win over vot­ers

BHOPAL: The rul­ing BJP in Mad­hya Pradesh will take out a road show named Kisan Sam­man Ya­tra to woo the farm­ing com­mu­nity, the largest group of vot­ers in a state that has wit­nessed deadly protests by farm­ers over dwin­dling in­come and ris­ing debts.

Road shows have be­come the lat­est draw in the poll-bound state, es­pe­cially over the past year, so much so that th­ese have come to be known as “ya­tra pol­i­tics”.

State BJP spokesper­son Lo­k­endra Parashar said their ya­tra’s aim will be to in­form farm­ers about the gov­ern­ment’s wel­fare schemes as well as seek their feed­back. Top per­form­ing farm­ers will also be fe­lic­i­tated.

The event will be­gin at Baldev Dauji tem­ple near Mathura in Ut­tar Pradesh on April 1 and move across MP and end on April 15. The shrine ded­i­cated to god Balaram was cho­sen as he is con­sid­ered one of the main deities of farm­ers, Parashar said.

The road show comes amid grow­ing dis­con­tent among farm­ers ahead of the elec­tions later this year in the state that the BJP has been rul­ing for three con­sec­u­tive terms. The farm un­rest es­ca­lated in June last year when n five farm­ers were killed in po­lice fir­ing in Mand­saur as a protest over debt re­lief turned vi­o­lent.

The BJP is go­ing all out to buck anti-in­cum­bency when the state votes for a new assem­bly that has 230 seats. The op­po­si­tion Congress is also push­ing hard to wrest power, plan­ning a se­ries of pro­grammes that in­clude ya­tras in the com­ing months.

Not want­ing to be left be­hind, Congress gen­eral sec­re­tary in charge of or­gan­i­sa­tion, Chan­drika Prasad Dwivedi, said the party will hold road shows such as a Kisan Swab­hi­man Ya­tra from March.

Road shows have be­come a key part of the poll drive in the state, with par­ties tak­ing out dif­fer­ent ya­tras in a bid to strike a chord with the vot­ers.

The state gov­ern­ment held a 35-day Ekatm Ya­tra, or jour­ney of one­ness, ded­i­cated to Adi Shankaracharya that ended a few days ago. But the event got mired in con­tro­versy as the Congress al­leged that sev­eral district col­lec­tors “be­haved like BJP work­ers” as they were seen plac­ing the “cha­ran paduka” or wooden slip­pers of the seer on their heads.

Af­ter the Mand­saur farmer stir, both par­ties had taken out ya­tras. The state gov­ern­ment or­gan­ised a Vikas Ya­tra to show- case its wel­fare schemes and reach out to peo­ple, es­pe­cially farm­ers, in Novem­ber last year.

Barely five months af­ter CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s Nar­mada Seva Ya­tra, which cov­ered over 15 dis­tricts, for­mer chief min­is­ter Digvi­jaya Singh of the Congress took out a six-month Nar­mada Parikrama, cir­cum­am­bu­la­tion of the Nar­mada river, from Septem­ber last year.

The po­lit­i­cal barbs are fly­ing over th­ese events. State Congress spokesper­son KK Mishra asked what was the need to take out ya­tras if the BJP had ush­ered de­vel­op­ment in the past 14 years? “The fact is that Chouhan is get­ting un­nerved by Digvi­jaya Singh’s Nar­mada ya­tra,” he said.

The BJP coun­tered that it has ev­ery right to take out ya­tras. State party spokesper­son Deepak Vi­jay­vargiya said chief min­is­terChouhan doesn’t need any­body’s per­mis­sion to take out a ya­tra to show­case his gov­ern­ment’s de­vel­op­ment work and achieve­ments.

Ac­cord­ing to jour­nal­ist and po­lit­i­cal ob­server NK Singh, Singh’s march could be­come a ral­ly­ing point for the Congress, but its im­pact has to be seen. “Chouhan be­ing a chief min­is­ter can­not have lux­ury of tak­ing out a long ya­tra on foot like Singh,” he said.


Mad­hya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan (cen­tre) takes part in BJP’S Nar­mada Seva Ya­tra, which cov­ered 15 dis­tricts.

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