MP polls ahead, Congress rake up old issues

Bhopal: The next Assembly polls in May is almost two years away but the Congress has its eyes set on it. Victory in the elections will mark an enviable hat-trick for the ruling BJP in the state, but for the Congress it has become a matter of prestige having been on the losing side on two consecutive occasions.

Ironically, the Congress, which lost power after the then Digvijay Singh government was perceived to be a poor performer in providing basic necessities like electricity, roads and water to the people is now harping on the same issues in its bid to corner the Shivraj Singh Chauhan administration.

"The power situation in Madhya Pradesh is almost the same particularly in the semi-urban and rural areas as it was in 2003," says Leader of Opposition in the state Ajay Singh.

"Similarly, though some roads are very good, overall the condition of most of them across the state is very pathetic," he adds.

State Congress Media Department Chairman Manak Agrawal quips, "the condition of roads in Madhya Pradesh is so bad that veteran BJP leader L K Advani was forced to fly in a helicopter from Bhopal to Chhindwara during his Madhya Pradesh leg of Jan Chetana Yatra."

The Congress had fared very poorly in the December 2003 elections with the party winning less than 40 of the 230 seats in the state assembly. The party`s performance improved in 2008, but it still failed to dislodge the BJP from power.

The Congress has since replaced its then state party chief Suresh Pachouri, whom many insiders felt was not an ideal candidate to lead the party in the elections having not won one himself, with tribal leader Kantilal Bhuria. "We are not bothered about the results in 2003 and 2008.We are confident that we will sweep the BJP out of power in the 2013 Assembly polls," says Ajay.

However, state BJP president Prabhat Jha is quick to brush aside the threat of any challenge from the Congress. "The Congress in Madhya has become a very weak party and it has almost lost the will to fight any elections," he says.

Jha also blames the Centre for the poor condition of National Highways alleging that it has failed to provide sufficient funds for the maintenance of roads in the state.