This is not the time to settle scores, the battle is with Congress: Sushma
In speeches as blunt as campaign pep talks can possibly get, the BJP’s national leaders asked the party’s election organisers in the village and town to forgive senior Madhya Pradesh leaders if they’ve been high-handed or ignored them during the last 10 years of BJP rule in the State.
President Rajnath Singh and Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, who represents Vidisha in the State, articulated what senior leaders have said in hushed tones for the last few months.
Ms. Swaraj quoted Yudhishtira’s dialogue with Bhim in the Mahabharata when the Kauravas are attacked by the Gandharvas. “Remember what Yudhishtira said. When we fight against each other we are five and the Kauravas 100. When the Gandharvas attack, we are 105,” she said addressing a gathering of roughly 10,000 party workers from across the State. Besides Mr. Singh, the former party president Nitin Gadkari, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, State unit president Narendra Tomar, MPs and other leaders were present.
“This is not the time to settle scores. If any worker is annoyed speak to him on phone or take him to the minister’s bungalow. The battle is with the Congress,” said Ms. Swaraj. Mr. Singh echoed her. “Booth management is 80 per cent of winning an election — the biggest challenge for any party. Forget personal differences now... Shivraj ji is a CM unstained by pride or corruption. I trust you to give him a hat-trick,” he said.
A senior Minister in the State, who preferred anonymity said, “For the last eight years of Chauhan-raj, bureaucrats have run the State. If a party worker complains to a Minister when a patwari [village clerk] asks for a bribe of Rs. 5000, the patwari then asks Rs. 10,000. MLAs can’t transfer officers. Only Ministers can. Even I have been asked to meet every ward-level organiser to appease them before the elections.”
A section of leaders, with their grounding in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, have privately raised objections to the Bajrang Dal cadres being asked to tone down their communal rhetoric.
From today’s speeches, it was clear the focus was development and not Hindutva. Leaders Mr. Tomar, Mr. Gadkari, Mr. Singh and Ms. Swaraj highlighted the schemes of the government. “Talk to people about schemes that affect their lives. Don’t preach development schemes to women. Talk to them about the Ladli Lakshmi Yojna [to prevent girls from quitting schools] and the Mukhyamantri Kanyadan Yojna [which helps people get married]... When you talk to intellectuals, tell them of our double digit growth rate and compare it to the Centre’s five per cent.”
While the State leaders have been harping on the “misrule” during the previous Congress regime under Digvijay Singh, Ms. Swaraj was clear that the target should be the UPA. “Even the Congress will not talk about the Digvijay decade without power, roads and water. They will talk about their last nine years. You must know the correct statistics and be able to convince people that we are the only party with a workable model for economic development.”