With the three states going to elections at the end of 2018, the one state that stands out for me is Madhya Pradesh. Primarily, because I originally belong to the city of Indore. While the residents of the state will exercise their right to vote, it would be amiss if they aren’t reminded of the haunting decade of Digvijay Singh’s rule (or Misrule as many would argue).
I have seen and experienced the term of Digvijay Singh Or Diggi Raja as many call him in MP, a name he gets very irritated by now as seen in a recent video in which he is seen threatening a villager when called so.
I was a young teenager during his term and broadly highlighting the key pointers of the “governance” that Digvijay as CM delivered:
- Electricity Supply: While today, Major cities of MP experience a 24×7 power supply without any prescribed power cuts. There was a time in Congress raj when MP was a power deficit state and power cuts of 4-5 hours daily was a routine in urban areas, these cuts were more severe in rural villages where they got a supply of power at untimely hours for not more than 3 hours daily. To top it off, the timings of these cuts were much more sinister read 7 PM to 9 PM in the evening and not only limited to residential areas but also to commercial sections of the cities hampering business big time. Imagine a big city like Indore, having no power during 7 PM -9 PM every evening during peak business hours for shopkeepers and study time for students.
- Water Supply: Water supply in MP was it its absolute worst during Diggi’s raj, Skirmishes over water was an everyday occurrence. Nothing and absolutely nothing was done to improve this condition, most people were dependent on borewells which were not amongst the reach of everyone due to its cost. The Tank mafia made the most of this time.
- Agriculture: Due to the scarcity of power and water, agriculture output from MP during 93-2003 was at it a very low point. Areas that were declared barren during that time are producing the best quality wheat today (Sanawad, Barwah region). The Farmers struggled to get any benefits from the government, something which the Shivraj Sarkar is trying to solve by the famous Bhavantar Yojna.
- Roads: Roads were the at their poorest shape during the Congress regime of 10 years, I vividly remember a senior Bollywood actress had come for a program in Vidisha and travelled by car from Bhopal till the venue and had given a media byte of experiencing “Camel-Back” ride on MP state roads. The situation was so bad that while travelling from Pune to Indore one could make out when the bus had entered MP border because it literally used to start shaking and creaking due to the potholes. Once when the Ex CM Digvijay Singh was asked about the potholes in Indore city he gave a bizarre logic of defining a pothole not based on its length but its depth, such was the audacity.
- Investments: Investments were very limited to the few industrial clusters in the state and ease of doing business was at a nadir when compared to other neighboring states like Gujrat and Maharashtra.
- Law & Order: The dacoit problem at Chambal was still a pricking thorn for the state at that time, it has been proven that the major reason for it to thrive was political patronage and lack of political will from the state government to end it. Additionally, Organizations like SIMI were also growing their network during the Diggi Sarkar. Even the previous MP Home minister Uma Shankar Gupta (Now the minister of commerce) had publicly stated that “SIMI was a gift from Digvijay Singh to MP”.
- Dissolution of MP State Road Transport Corporation: Digvijay Singh was instrumental in dissolving the MPSRTC, which gave the touts and local Bus mafia a free hand to operate out of state-owned bus stands. This was a cause of big discomfort for the state residents.
The times of the Digvijay era is what haunts the Madhya Pradesh voter till today, the bloom of lotus in the state in 2003 and the effective governance of the BJP government has not only lifted MP from a “Bimaru” state that it inherited to what it is now. Still, the memories of the troubles during the Congress regime still haunt many.
(A summary of the above pointers compared between the then Congress government and the current BJP Sarkar displayed across MP can be a true nightmare for the Congress’s chances in the upcoming state elections of the state)