Ten benefits of Diggy's Narmada Yatra

Sat, April 14 2017

Hindus believe that a dip in the holy Ganga can wash away their sins. They also believe that just a glimpse of the holier Narmada can get rid of all bad karmas.
What happens to a person who walks its 3,300 km banks, worshipping the holy river for 192 days? See Photos...

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  1. Apparently, Digvijay Singh is not going to fry pakodas. The Congress general secretary seems to have come out of woods after his arduous pilgrimage that concluded this week. The six month sabbatical from politics has made the former chief minister, paradoxically, politically relevant once again.
  2. Digvijay Singh has been able to shed his pro-Muslim image, inflicted by his detractors. He has been a favourite punching bag for Sangh parivar that portrayed him as anti-Hindu politician. That image stuck. Few knew, or cared that he is a devout religious man in his personal life, assiduously following all Hindu rituals.
  3. The long march has arrested his downhill slide within Congress. His career was touching a low when he asked Congress high command for a six month leave of absence. The leadership had relieved him of major responsibilities after Goa fiasco, with local politicians blaming him for not forming government despite securing majority in assembly election. The man, who was once described as Rahul Gandhi’s mentor, was no longer part of the inner charmed circle.
  4. He has been able to reinvent himself. With Congress high command failing to untangle knotty leadership issue in MP, he wants to play kingmaker, granting to himself the status of “Fevicol” to unite the fragmented party: “I am not a contender for chief minister’s post, but if the party wants, I can lead its campaign in the upcoming assembly election.”
  5. The pilgrimage helped him keep his mouth shut and fingers away from Twitter keyboard for over six months. His typical day would start with a volley of tweets fired at the crack of dawn. Throughout the day he would keep tweeting from the hip. He was one of the most trolled Congress leaders on social media with over 10 lakh followers on Facebook and 8.7 lakh on Twitter.
  6. As chief minister, Singh had once famously invited BJP national executive for dinner at his official residence. He seems to be on charms offensive again, building new bridges. Union minister Uma Bharati called him “elder brother” and demanded a share of “punya” that he and his wife had earned during Narmada parikrama. Senior BJP leader Prahlad Patel accompanied him twice during the pilgrimage. Many local leaders of the ruling party were seen welcoming him. The icing on the cake was Narendra Master Saheb, the chief minister’s brother, organising a grand reception for Digvijay and his wife.
  7. With Congressmen pouring in from all over the State, he was able to renew his network of party workers that he had assiduously build as a 45 year old MPCC president --- travelling constantly, living out of suitcase for nearly two years in early nineties. As a corollary, his list of winnable party candidates for 2018 election is almost ready.
  8. He was able to gauge for himself pulse of people as he marched through 110 of the 220 constituencies in MP. He went to areas that politicians normally visit only once in five years, that too in a chopper for a few minutes. His was a close interaction with people, as the pilgrims trudged through dusty paths. His aides also meticulously catalogued a mine of ground level information on government schemes’ implementation. Political parties normally spend billions of rupees in getting this kind of authentic real life picture.
  9. The 71-year-old politician has proved that he is still young, and not only at heart. He walked, on an average, 15 to 20 km daily for over six months, braving harsh sun and cold wind, crossing streams, roughing it out in wilderness, trudging through mountain trails and dirt tracks --- showing that he is fitter than younger leaders. If 65-year-old Vladimir Putin can take ice-cold dip to please church, if Mao Zedong can swim 15 kilometres at age 73, can our own Diggy be far behind!
  10. Wrapped in a hand-woven cotton sari, head covered like a demure bahu, Amrita Rai, 45, who married a quarter century older Digvijay two years ago, accompanied her husband on the pilgrimage. It culminated in seamless assimilation of the new “Rani Sahiba” in social and political circles. The observers could not help but notice her big posters on vehicles that accompanied pilgrims and the former CM’s efforts to introduce her to the geo-political world where he operates, far from Delhi’s glitter.
  11. NK Singh