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Digvijaya Singh's Open Challenge to Shivraj Singh Chouhan Sets Stage For Bhopal Poll Battle

The Congress leader, Digvijaya Singh said the Lok Sabha polls across the country would be fought over 'Modi’s report card.' Singh asked if BJP, in its five years, had fulfilled its promises from 2014 elections.


Updated:March 26, 2019, 7:47 PM IST

New Delhi: With BJP leader Shivraj Singh Chouhan emerging as a likely Lok Sabha contender from Bhopal, Digvijaya Singh, the Congress candidate from the city, extended an open challenge to him for a public debate.

“I have been saying this from the beginning. Why doesn’t Shivraj Singh Chouhan come on stage and debate me? This is my challenge to him,” Singh said on Monday.

Singh was announced as Congress’ Bhopal candidate for the upcoming general elections when the party released its eighth list of 38 Lok Sabha candidates on Sunday.

The BJP has since been considering fielding Chouhan from the Madhya Pradesh capital, a seat considered to be a saffron party stronghold. The two former Chief Ministers fighting on the same turf would make Bhopal a hotly contested and closely watched constituency when it goes to polls on May 12.

Singh said he was relishing the contest, no matter the BJP candidate from Bhopal, and sounded confident about his chances in the city which has been held by the BJP since 1989. “BJP is scared of me,” Singh said. “That is why they keep saying nonsensical things about me. Put anyone to contest against me. Come on the field.”

The Congress leader said the Lok Sabha polls across the country would be fought over ‘Modi’s report card.’ Singh asked if BJP, in its five years, had fulfilled its promises from 2014 elections.

“Did people get jobs? Were the promises made to the youth kept? Did people get Rs 15 lakh in their accounts? Did black money return from foreign shores? Did our relationship with neighboring countries improve? These issues will be discussed and debated, and people will vote accordingly.”

According to the former Madhya Pradesh CM, ‘Modi’s bad governance’ would not just be an issue for the Bhopal seat alone, but all 543 seats in India. Singh also said the BJP was running out of issues and thus raking up Ram temple ahead of polls.

“BJP kept misleading people (over Ram temple issue). They kept taking note and vote in the name of Ram Mandir. They don’t want the Ram Mandir to be built. Because if it is built, they won’t have an issue left.”

Singh also dismissed accusations that Congress had come up with ‘soft Hindutva’ to counter the BJP. According to him, Congress had never left the path of religion; they just didn’t “misuse” it for political gains.

Claiming that Congress represented inclusion and love, Singh accused BJP of spreading ‘hatred’ in the country. “BJP hates the Nehru-Gandhi family, and hatred is their only agenda. They spread it in the name of religion. They spread it against opposition. It is in their soul, it is their nature,” he said.

Currently, BJP represents 24 of Madhya Pradesh’s 29 Lok Sabha seats, while Congress holds only two. However, the grand old party received a shot in the arm ahead of general elections when they overthrew the Chouhan government in the state after three terms in December last year.

Singh said Congress’ tally is likely to multiply in the upcoming polls. “Our seats will increase at least five to six times,” he said.​

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