NEW DELHI: AICC general secretary Digvijaya Singh has decided to embark on a six-month padayatra of almost 3,300 km to perform Narmada Parikrama. The route crisscrosses many parts of Madhya Pradesh and some areas bordering Gujarat.
Singh said it was strictly a “nonpolitical” and “completely religious and spiritual” endeavour which he had wanted to undertake since 1997 but could not as he was pre-occupied with political engagements. However, he is convinced the time has come to finally perform the Parikrama, a scared ritual for pious Hindus in which thousands of people participate, making it among the biggest holy congregations around the banks of the Narmada. As per plan, Singh is to begin his padayatra on September 30.
“Yes on the advise of my guru, I have decided to undertake a padayatra for performing the Narmada Parikrama this time. It is a strictly spiritual endeavour, something I wanted to perform for a very long time but could not,” Singh said when contacted by ET.
Singh being the tallest Congress leader from MP, it’s anybody’s guess whether the six month padayatra will turn into a mass-contact programme. Singh, a vocal critic of Modi government and BJP-RSS, is constantly targeted by Sangh Parivar supporters.
As per rules of the Parikrama, anybody undertaking it should complete the entire route even though s/he is permitted to take occasional breaks at certain points provided the person will resume the yatra from the same point.
Incidentally, the yatra route covers over 110 assembly segments in Madhya Pradesh and another 20 seats in neighbouring Gujarat.
Singh’s move coincides with the Congress high command mulling ways to prop up a new team of leadership for faction-ridden MP Congress to take on the ‘hat-trick stint’ of BJP chief minister Shivraj Singh in the next assembly polls slated for end 2018.
Singh, a Rajya Sabha member and key AICC general secretary, has maintained that he is not interested in returning to state politics. It has been widely reported that Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia are in contention for PCC presidentcum-chief ministerial candidate.
As Singh is widely perceived to command the largest support base among MP Congress leaders, his support is seen as crucial for any leader who aspires to lead the party to elections by uniting the factionridden state Congress.