Moving Miles for Vote Appeal, Digvijaya and Pragya End a Hectic Campaign Day on 'Different Notes'
While Digvijaya Singh stuck to development plank while campaigning, BJP's Pragya Thakur ended her day with attack on her Congress rival.
File photos of Malegaon blasts accused and BJP leader Sadhvi Pragya Thakur and Congress senior leader Digvijaya Singh.
Bhopal: Enthusiastic Congress supporters of all age groups, including women, with flowers in hands eagerly looked towards a side of the road in Sarvadharam Colony in Bhopal's Kolar as it was already 3 pm on the last day of campaigning for the sixth phase of polls.
The venue had a small tent, a stage and a troupe of musicians who beat the drums aloud and shortly one of the party leaders announced on the mic that ‘Sri Digvijaya Singh’ was approaching towards the venue.
Brimming with enthusiasm, the supporters ran towards the direction from where Singh was coming to address his last public meeting before the campaigning drew to a close at 5pm. Surrounded by his close aides and supporters who almost crushed Singh, he moved towards the venue but suddenly slipped towards the market behind the welcome stage.
After meeting two-three shopkeepers and making brief vote appeal, the 72-year-old waded through the crowd of supporters to reach the stage. Amid chanting of mantras by priests and party leaders, the Congress candidate was greeted with flowers on a packed stage with every inch of space occupied.
While addressing the public, Singh made a brief vote appeal for May 12, urged supporters to end eight-time winning streak of BJP from Bhopal and promised that from wherever he contests, he forges family relations with locals.
Leaving the venue, Singh took quick strides and reached the nearby bigger tent where he was to address the last public meeting of this poll. After several of his close aides spoke, an exhausted looking Singh decided to sit on the stage’s floor to catch some breath.
As he spoke after almost half a dozen leaders, he started by asking the party cadre to remain vigilant for next two days and get the mock poll done cautiously on EVMs. Alleging that BJP would distribute money and liquor but exuded confidence that his supporters might be poor but weren’t dishonest. He asked the party cadre to act like a farmer for two nights and remain alert as a farmer who guards his ready crop.
Not speaking a word on BJP’s Pragya Thakur, as was the case throughout, he turned to civic issues in suburb Kolar, claiming the region is grappling with issues such as potable water, transportation, sewage and others. “Be with me for two more days and I promise you, Digvijaya Singh would serve you for next five years.”
He assured the public to end the hooliganism of local BJP MLA Rameshwar Sharma and added MLA’s misdemeanours in government land encroachment would be exposed. Warning BJP's "goons", the Congress veteran claimed, “Whatever happened in Mamaji’s (Shivraj) rule is gone, these things won’t be allowed in Nanaji’s (himself) rule.”
He concluded with chants of Bharat Mata ki Jai and left the venue as more such welcome kiosks awaited him on way back as almost an hour was left for campaigning.
Earlier, Singh also visited temples situated in his campaign route and braving the blistering heat, also walked on foot during the campaigning.
On the contrary, BJP’s Pragya Thakur mostly rode pillion on a bike to campaign in various areas as the candidate claims that custodial torture has left her with depleted physical condition and she can’t walk for long stretches.
It was around 1pm in searing heat that she landed at Vallabh Bhawan area where the government offices are situated. After greeting with folded hands to the crowd comprising government employees and BJP supporters, Thakur, helped by aides, returned to her bus and appeared on the elevated roof top minutes after.
As a local worker spoke on mic praising her and PM Narendra Modi, ex-Shivraj minister Umashankar Gupta spoke and asked her to address the gathering. Thakur, however, said her throat was chocked and said she would speak after ten minutes. Gupta again continued attacking Digvijaya Singh and praising BJP government before handing the mic back to the party candidate.
In her usual flair, Thakur started speaking straightaway attacking her opponent — Digvijaya Singh. “I reached amongst you very late thinking let them show their aukat (worth) to you,” said Thakur as BJP workers cheered. She poked fun at Singh apologising to government employees recently, claiming I thought you people would return him with disfigured face but you kept your patience which was a good thing.
Thakur was referring to Singh’s bitter relations with the government staffers post 2003 when the former CM had sacked 28,000 daily wagers and also planned retirement of many who completed 20 years of service.
Meanwhile, Thakur claimed like the employees, she was also a victim of him (Digvijaya), who according to Thakur had assaulted the religion as well claiming he has called bhagwa and Hindus –terrorists. He has questioned sacrifices of our martyrs and also the action initiated on the enemies.
Recounting her alleged custodial tortures, Thakur said she was live example of ten years of their (Congress) misdeeds. The BJP candidate also claimed the Congress was left disappointed after she was banned for 72 hours but I kept enjoying my spiritual activities.
Referring to the yagna held in favour of Digvijaya Singh, the BJP candidate said they again insulted bhagwa by inviting seers with fake reasons. “When they realised, they exposed the truth and said Pragya Thakur was the real saint,” she claimed.
The BJP candidate said she was witness to govt employees’ sufferings when Singh had sacked them and she was in Bhopal as ABVP office bearer. “He also insulted our educated youths by hiring them for Rs 5,000 as contractual teachers and never hiked their salaries.”
Claiming that she had devoted herself for nationalism which heled her brave the worst custodial tortures. “I am told he has called me ‘daughter’, and I said this was worst joke of the world. The one who never respects women, and engaged with a woman his daughter’s age ..so how I am his daughter. This much lowly, shrewd and cheap man can’t be my father,” claimed Thakur.
She said PM Modi would keep the nation safe and urged the voters to defeat those who call terrorists ji and eulogise Pakistan. She sought votes on PM Modi’s policies.
Earlier, Thakur had offered a chunri at a temple, sang bhajans and took part in Sundarkand recited by 501 priests. Thakur after concluding her campaign reached the BJP office and took part in several meetings.
Besides, Veena Ghanekar, the retired IAS officer turned politician is also contesting on Samanya Pichhra Alpsankhyak Kalyan Samaj (SAPAKS) candidate and is expected to dent the BJP votes by raking up reservation issue in promotion and caste based reservation.
Several government employees, speaking to News18, affirmed that they are least likely to side with Digvijaya Singh as they haven’t forgotten his ‘misrule’ and anti-employee policies.
“We fear once he returns, he could start again working on anti-employee policies,” a middle-aged government staffer said on condition of anonymity. “You seem an MP resident and would be aware of what happened 15 years ago with no power and no roads,” replied another employee on being asked whom he would support. We would vote for PM Modi’s image and it does not matter who is the local candidate against Digvijaya Singh, many government staffers claimed.
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