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BJP unveils Vision 2010 for MP

By A Ganesh Nadar in Bhopal
Last updated on: November 20, 2003 21:37 IST
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The Bharatiya Janata Party indicated it is planning for a post-election scenario in Madhya Pradesh when it unveiled Vision 2010, its agenda for the state, at a development seminar in Bhopal on Thursday. Poll surveys say the BJP is likely to thwart Chief Minister Digvijay Singh's dreams of a third term in office.

Organised under the auspices of the Gaurav Pratishtan, which the party has set up to plan development in Madhya Pradesh, the seminar featured three of the BJP's economic stars: Finance Minister Jaswant Singh, Divestment/Telecommunication Minister Arun Shourie and Commerce/Law Minister Arun Jaitley. Strangely, the party's chief ministerial aspirant and the natural leader of any development effort if the BJP is elected to power December 1 made a late entry and an early exit. 

A member of the Gaurav Pratishtan informed the audience that over 200,000 people had been consulted before the party drafted its Vision 2010 for Madhya Pradesh. Shourie said India had currently one of the highest growth rates in the world, but Madhya Pradesh had not progressed in spite of its 18 rivers and 1,500 mines. In 10 years, he said the state's debt had increased from Rs 5,000 crores (Rs 50 billion) to Rs 35,000 crores (Rs 350 billion). But he could not see where the money had gone.

Arun Jaitley said the Opposition always harped on the BJP's Hindutva policies, but never mentioned that the growth rate was always between 2% and 3% during nearly half a century of Congress Raj. During just five years of BJP rule the growth rate had gone up to 7%. During the last seven months, Jaitley -- who is in charge of the party's electoral strategy in the state -- said Madhya Pradesh had become his second home. He is said to have decided that his party needed to challenge Digvijay Singh -- who had spun a brand of soft Hindutva to counter the BJP -- by raising issues of development, and the fact that Madhya Pradesh has not made enormous progress in 10 years of Congress rule.

The erudite Jaitley criticised Digvijay Singh for saying that elections were not fought on one plank-- development alone. He spoke about the NDA government's national highways and river interlinking plans. Infrastructure, he said, was at the top of the BJP's development agenda. 

Jaswant Singh spoke about how India had progressed in the last five years in spite of global sanctions after the May 1998 nuclear blasts, the 1999 Kargil war, the 2001 earthquake in Kutch, and the cyclones in Gujarat and Andhra. Last year's drought, the finance minister added, was the worst in 30 years. Yet India (read BJP) had emerged victorious. 

"Those days they talked about Roti, Kapda aur Makan," Singh said, "These days it is Roti, Kapda, Makan aur Mobiles."

A little more than an hour had passed when Uma Bharti made her appearance. She said it took 6 hours to cover 90 km in Raghogarh, the chief minister's constituency. The BJP, she promised, would develop the villages to the extent that all facilities and infrastructure available in the cities would be available in the villages too.

She said the "three great men" on stage who had taken the country forward would hold her finger and lead her ahead. "They will take this state forward too," she said, then switching to English from Hindi, Uma Bharti added, "a man is known by the company he keeps. I am in the company of these great men. Atalji has a Vision 2020 for India, and I have a Vision 2010 for Madhya Pradesh." 

Then the mercurial minister -- who Digvijay Singh has called a failure in every portfolio she has held in the NDA government -- hurried away after holding a whispered conversation with the three wise men, whose counsel she will no doubt seek if she becomes Madhya Pradesh's next chief minister.


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A Ganesh Nadar in Bhopal