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Other States - Madhya Pradesh Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

The battle for power over power

By K.V. Prasad

INDORE NOV. 24. An intense power struggle is under way in Madhya Pradesh. The issue is not just which party would come to occupy the seat of power in Bhopal but a tug-of-war between the ruling Congress and its principal challenger, the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Such is the campaign that one of the BJP candidates put up a billboard depicting a huge lantern with the punch-line that the party does not want M.P. to be pushed back in time to the era of lanterns.

It is another matter that the hoarding on a busy street, aimed as a telling comment on the situation, could at a fleeting glance be mistaken for the symbol of the Rashtriya Janata Dal of Laloo Prasad Yadav.

The BJP is pressing ahead on issues of development, lack of adequate power and the state of roads. The Congress acknowledges that electricity shortage is an issue for the polls while a set of BJP workers in the city hope that just as rising prices of onions sealed the fate of the party in 1998 Assembly polls the inability to tackle the power crisis would now unseat the10-year-old Digvijay Singh Government.

There are arguments on both sides. If the Congress charges that the Centre had made no contingency plan

to ensure power supply to M.P., after the generating units went to the newly-formed State of Chhattisgarh, the


BJP counters by asking why the State headed by another Congress Chief Minister, Ajit Jogi, did not sell its surplus power to M.P.

The Congress today launched yet another offensive against the Vajpayee Government with the Deputy Leader

of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, Shivraj Patil, charging that a Government which slashed its own target of power generation during the 9th Five Year Plan from 48,000 MW to 28,000 MW cannot point a finger at the M.P. power situation.

With an industrial township of Pithampur close to this city, both parties are aware of its impact and Indore forms part of the Malwa region, also considered a stronghold of the BJP, though in 1998 the region tilted the scales in favour of the Congress.

Faced with an engaging debate, the BJP has promised to change the situation with promises of short-term and

long-term solution including making it a surplus power-generating State by 2007. The Congress too has made

promises to remedy the situation and says it has already undertaken steps which would over a period of time change the demand-supply equation forever. Both parties now hope that the discerning voter would make an informed choice by pressing the right button on the electronic voting machine, which mercifully can run on battery cell.

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