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Congress Will Do Well In MP Polls, Scindia’s Absence Won’t Impact Its Prospects: Digvijaya Singh

'He (Scindia) had not brought sizeable numbers (MLAs) in the last elections, but it was the Congress party which won that much,' Singh told PTI in an interview on Thursday night when asked how his party will cope with the absence of Scindia.

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Congress MP Digvijaya Singh
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The Congress is confident of performing well in the upcoming Madhya Pradesh elections and the absence of Jyotiraditya Scindia, now a Union minister, won’t affect it, said former chief minister and Rajya Sabha member Digvijaya Singh.

“He (Scindia) had not brought sizeable numbers (MLAs) in the last elections, but it was the Congress party which won that much,” Singh told PTI in an interview on Thursday night when asked how his party will cope with the absence of Scindia.

“And if you see the results of bye elections (in 2020), then it clearly reflects that the party has not got bad results from there. In Gwalior and Morena, we have won the local body elections. Therefore, it is not right to give him the entire credit for it,” Singh said.

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The Congress party contested the elections in 2018, and it is contesting again this time with total unity, he said

The Congress formed the government in MP under Kamal Nath after the 2018 polls, its first after 15 years. But it fell in March 2020 when Scindia and MLAs loyal to him joined the BJP.

Asked about his party’s preparations as the campaigning for the November 17 polls has entered a crucial phase, Singh said, “The first thing is that people are very angry with the BJP government and I am not the only person saying this. Even the media is saying so.”

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While anti-incumbency prevails and people are fed up with the BJP, the Congress has made a lot of preparations this time, he said.

“Third, we have effectively controlled the rebellion against the party’s official candidates and now only 7-8 rebels are left in the fray. Therefore, our preparations this time and the way we have controlled the rebel situation; I am confident of getting good results this time.”

Of the 230 seats in the state, the senior Congress leader said, there was no dispute over ticket distribution in 90-95 per cent of the constituencies, except a few, which is justified as there were 10-12 aspirants for each seat.

"This discord was there in the BJP also, and as per my information, more rebels from the BJP are in the fray this time as they have not withdrawn their candidature,” he added.

Asked about the steps Congress took during ticket distribution this time to prevent the recurrence of the 2020-like defection, Singh said, “Those who were supposed to go have already left the party. I don't think anyone of that mindset now remains in the party.” 

He said the Congress now has those aligned with its ideology, expressing confidence that they won’t compromise with anyone. “Besides, we have also learnt a lot from political management. The little mistakes that happened earlier will not be repeated,” he said.

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The septuagenarian politician exuded confidence in winning more than 130 seats in the state. To form a government in Madhya Pradesh, a party needs the support of 116 MLAs in the 230-member assembly.

He described as “totally wrong” the allegations that there is no space for others in the state Congress as former chief ministers Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh are promoting their sons.

Asked about the entry of iconic film Sholay’s characters in MP politics and if ‘Jai-Veeru’ are in Congress then to which party does Gabbar Singh (dacoit in the film) belong, Singh said, “...where else Gabbar would be. Like Gabbar looted the people, (MP CM) Shivraj Singh Chouhan and his party (BJP) too looted the state.”

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On the Congress’ ‘50 per cent commission’ rule campaign in BJP-governed MP on the lines of its ‘40 per cent’ cut jibe ahead of the Karnataka polls, Singh claimed that contractors have told the high court that they have to pay 50 per cent commission for getting things done. 

Asked if he agreed with Nath’s “tear clothes of Digvijaya Singh and his son Jaivardhan Singh over distribution of tickets” remark, which the BJP had highlighted to claim tension within the Congress, Singh said one should see the context in which the statement was given. 

“It was just a ‘jumla’ (off-the-cuff remark). Moreover, at least I believe that those in politics should remain thick-skinned. I have never paid any attention to these things. Let them say whatever they want to but I tread on my own ways,” he said, stressing that he and Nath have been friends for over 40 years.

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On Chouhan apparently expressing a desire to become the chief minister for the fifth term, Singh said, “Let him think so, but people have got bored of him in the state."

About his foot marches, including the Narmada ‘Padyatra’, Singh said “Such yatras have their own importance and I always say ‘Ramta jogi, behta pani’ (the traveller, who doesn’t stay at one place)." 

When asked whether he also taught former Congress president Rahul Gandhi about the importance of such yatras as he (Singh) walked with him during the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’, Singh said, “He (Rahul) himself wanted to do it.”

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About the recent Enforcement Directorate (ED) raids and summons to opposition leaders, including the one to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Singh said, “It is a very dangerous thing. Innocents are being targeted through ED and CBI to settle political scores. It is not a good sign for democracy.”

Asked about the difference in situations prevailing during 2018-2019 and 2023-2024, Singh said in 2018-19, the opposition INDIA bloc didn't exist. This time, it has already taken shape and his party will contest the 2024 elections on the basis of it.

“There is anti-incumbency prevailing against Modi ji, inflation is rising and people are angry with him. Prices of LPG, petrol and diesel are continuously increasing,” he said.

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Will INDIA grouping constituents contesting the Madhya Pradesh polls separately have an impact on Congress’ prospects? Singh said it will not have any impact. 

“The party is going to form the government with a comfortable majority of 130+ seats,” he said.

About the BJP painting him as “Mr Bantadhar” and claiming that he did not do anything when he was chief minister from 1993 to 2003, Singh sought to highlight works done in education, Panchayati Raj, reservation for backward classes and jobs for people in rural areas.

He said the infant-child mortality rate was very less and decentralization of power happened when he was the CM. The government also provided land rights to the SC/ST persons, he said.

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“But they (BJP) conveniently forget all these things,” he said.

“It was my bad luck that I was not in power when Manmohan Singh was the PM as earlier only 28 per cent of funds from central taxes used to come. Now it is 42 per cent. I didn’t get the kind of support from the central government which I was supposed to get. Still, we managed by reforms,” he added.

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