Congress' gesture towards BJP leaders is a welcome change in MP's political culture
Shams Ur Rehman Alavi
BHOPAL: Watching Kamal Nath's swearing-in ceremony on TV screens, people were struck by how Shivraj Chouhan was present amid top leaders of the Congress, at the grand event that was also a show of his rival party's success.
It is inferred that Shivraj Chouhan was pally with the Opposition leaders and remains humble. But there is an entirely different story behind it--how Congress leaders were not invited and ignored in government functions over the last few years.
Those aware of the political culture in Madhya Pradesh in recent years, know that opposition leaders often felt slighted, humiliated and complained how they were either not given due respect or clearly ignored at government functions.
Not just in Bhopal, but in other major cities and district headquarters, elected Congress leaders' names were often missing in invitation cards or plaques. In government functions, it was common to find Congress leaders who complained that either invitations were not sent or reached them later.
One of the most prominent MPs who had got a project sanctioned in his constituency, didn't get an invitation even for the inauguration of the project. In fact, top Congress leaders including MPs and even a former leader of opposition, often expressed their pain privately and among friends that they were deliberately ignored.
This had increased in recent years. Though Shivraj Chouhan appeared modest, the 'arrogance of power' was blatant and this was visible at most events. But when it came to Kamal Nath's swearing-in, Congress ensured that former chief ministers Kailash Joshi, Babulal Gaur and Shivraj Chouhan, were properly invited, given the seats in the front and due respect given to them.
Senior Congress leaders said that they want to change the political culture. In contrast, today when veteran BJP leader Kailash Joshi sat in a row on the back, Congress leaders went to him, brought him to the front row. Similarly, former CM Babulal Gaur was was brought by Digvijaya Singh with utmost respect.
"Till now, we were in opposition and often invitation cards arrived at the last minute or even when the event had begun. But we want that the political differences apart, courtesies should remain", said a senior leader who played a major role in extending invitations.
No wonder, Shivraj Chouhan initially appeared a bit awkward amid UPA leaders when he took seat (sans the attention after over 13 years), but when many came up to him and shook hand or hugged him, he also got comfortable.
Later, the moment came when Kamal Nath, Scindia and Chouhan were seen raising their hands, together. Congress seems to have started well and has given a lesson in 'Sanskar'. Just hope that it continues and the lessons are learnt well by all the parties.