“Bantadhar", a political insult meaning “wrecker", has been heard frequently in Madhya Pradesh’s power circles for close to two decades ever since the Bharatiya Janata Party uprooted the Congress government led by Digvijaya Singh in 2003. Now the man himself has hit back at the rival party with the same taunt to highlight the recent electricity crisis in the state.
Joining his party colleagues in criticising the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government, Singh tweeted in Hindi, “It’s quite bizarre. Hydel projects generate full power during the monsoon. There is no demand from the agricultural field. MP has the capacity to produce more power than required. Then why do we have outages? This is beyond comprehension. Who is the ‘bantadhar’? Outcry over outages. Thanks to the darkness brought by the Shivraj government. Power is gone, but pay the bill in full."
The later part of Singh’s decade-long rule, in the early noughties, was marred by heavy load-shedding. The state saw power cuts for long hours after Chhattisgarh was carved out of MP in 2000 and most of the thermal power plants fell in the share of the tribal state, leaving Madhya Pradesh groping in the dark.
The BJP had coined the term Bantadhar for Singh going into the 2003 assembly polls, over alleged misgovernance.
Besides the electricity shortage, the saffron party criticised his rule for bad roads and scarcity of water supply. Following the Congress leader’s jibe, the BJP was quick to respond. Party spokesperson Rajneesh Agrawal said that Bantadhar had been the culture of the Congress party. “There are momentary problems with Bijli, Sadak and Pani and these will be sorted out soon," he added.
“We have created a model of growth since 2003 and the public will give a fitting response in the 2023 assembly polls,” said the BJP leader.
With an apparent shortage of coal and slump in hydel power generation, several areas in MP especially the rural pockets have been facing long power cuts with electricity distribution companies resorting to load-shedding.
Not only the Congress party, some BJP MLAs too had spoken out on the situation. Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Thursday said the administration will tackle the power crisis even if they have to buy power at Rs 20 a unit.
The MP government has received relief in the form of 1,700 MW of hydel power including 520 MW from Omkareshwar and 1,036 MW from the Indira Sagar plant. The state managed to increase the daily supply to 10,236 MW on Thursday, a significant improvement over the past few days.