Congress workers marching to Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan’s residence here on Thursday were greeted with batons and water cannons. Police foiled the Opposition’s bid to gherao the Chief Minister’s house over issues of corruption, poverty and malnutrition.

The Congress’ protest call, in the name of Mahatma Gandhi, came even as Mr. Chauhan was away on an eight-day official tour of the U.S.

Earlier, the Congress held a public meeting, attended by party workers and office-bearers from different parts of the State, under the leadership of State Congress chief Kantilal Bhuria and Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly, Ajay Singh.

The meeting was held to protest against BJP misrule “plagued by poverty, rape, malnutrition, corruption, and a constantly deteriorating law and order situation”.

At the meeting, Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, Congress general secretary in charge of Madhya Pradesh B. K. Hariprasad and State leaders addressed party workers, exhorting them to stand united and throw the BJP out of power.

After the rally, the workers tried to march to Mr. Chauhan’s official Shamala Hills residence but were confronted by the police. Several party workers and leaders were injured as the police used batons and water cannons to disperse them.

Mr. Ajay Singh and Mr. Bhuria sat on a dharna on the road to protest the police action and courted arrest along with scores of party workers.

On the face of it, the meeting and the subsequent gherao were held in order to protest the BJP’s “misrule”.

For the Congress, it was also an important occasion to put up a united front despite reports of factionalism and internal strife plaguing the State unit.

While Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia and the State leaders were present, the former Chief Minister and Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh and Union Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath could not make it to the meeting.

Mr. Digvijay Singh did extend his support to the meeting through a letter to Mr. Bhuria.

On the question of FDI, Mr. Scindia said it was necessary for the country and the people opposing it were anti-farmers.