Is the sun setting on Digvijay Singh’s political career in Madhya Pradesh? If the veteran Congress leader is to be believed,the answer is yes. He has himself said so in public more than once in recent times.
In our sanskar and sanskruti no one worships the setting sun, the former chief minister said at a rally in Gwalior in the presence of Rahul Gandhi and Jyotiraditya Scindia this month. Glancing towards the young leaders,he said,Lets all worship the rising sun.
The 66-year-old had used the allegory to justify his taking a seat behind the young leaders on the dais at the rally in the state he ruled between 1993 and 2003. Since that rally,Singh continues to occupy the backseat on the dais and has elaborated that the setting sun comment was directed at himself.
While some Congress leaders say this and the projection of Scindia as the face of the party campaign is also a part of a stategy to counter the BJP,which had announced that its campaign will target the 10-year misrule of Singh,political observers believe the comments betrayed Singhs frustration more than anything else. His wings have been clipped and he often tells ticket-seekers not to bother him because he wont be able to meet their demands.
Singhs decline in state politics began with the appointment of Mohan Prakash as the AICC general secretary incharge of MP and was complete when the party made the young Union minister Scindia the chief of campaign committee. He got the taste of things to come when he could not even make it to the hall at the state headquarters where Scindia was addressing his first press conference. His supporters kept banging the door in vain before Singh chose to walk away.
PCC vice-president Rameshwar Nikhra recently said Singh has had his innings in the state. The lawyers attempt to paraphrase his comment did not help and he ended up tying himself in knots in his attempt to deflect the blame to television channels. Nikhra must have heaved a sigh of relief of sorts when Singh himself talked of his diminishing stature.
When the Congress lost the 2003 elections under him,Singh had announced that he wont contest any election for 10 years. He has kept his word. Last year,he hinted that he was not averse to contesting the Lok Sabha elections after his self-imposed exile was over and recently said that he would take the plunge if the party asked him to do so.
For all the talk of his diminishing clout,Singh continues to set the tone for many a discourse for his party. At Indore and Rahatgarh (Sagar) rallies on October 24,Rahul reiterated what Singh had said in his brief speeches. Singh spoke of unity at Rahatgarh and of communal politics pursued by the BJP,providing clues to Rahul.
Known for his regular tweets,Singh uses the social media and the conventional media more than other leader of his own party. Of late,he has even started tweeting poems that can be interpreted in more ways than one.
Since he has a penchant for controversy,the media chases him wherever he travels in the country. He rarely disappoints whether it is Narendra Modi,Baba Ramdev or the RSS,he never holds back his punches. He is probably the only leader who occasionally takes swipes at his own party and its leaders and gets away with it. The Congress appropriates his remarks that suit the party and calls other his personal views.
Ironically,the talk of his reduced stature in MP has come at a time when his son Jaivardhan Singh is set to contest from the family pocketborough of Raghogarh. There was also a talk of Singhs younger brother Laxman Singh taking on Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.