4th anniv of Digvijaya’s ‘Narmada Parikrama: A journey that changed MP’s political scenario

Narmada Parikrma.

Bhopal, (Asian independent) It will be the fourth anniversary on Saturday of the ‘Narmada Parikrama’ of senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh along with his journalist wife Amrita Singh that concluded on April 9, 2018 after covering over 3,000 km on the banks of the Narmada river over 192 days.

Digvijaya Singh’s ‘Narmada Parikrama’ was judged from different perspectives by different observers on the basis of its effect in the politics of Madhya Pradesh. Many believe that the yatra (parikrama) played a crucial role not only in re-strengthening Singh on the political stage of the state, but also in bringing back the Congress to power after a gap of 15 years.

The political observers’ analysis of this yatra was on the basis of its political outcome as it had concluded about six months before the state assembly elections – 2018 and more because, out of the 65 assembly seats in 16 districts covered during 6 months and 10 days, the Congress won 36-37 of them.

Singh maintained that the ‘Narmada Parikrama’ was not a political event but a religious journey with his wife, which he performed on the direction of his guru Swami Swaroopanand Saraswat. However, a religious-cum-social initiative called ‘Pangat Me Sangat’ (where people sit on the ground and take meals together) brought enormous changes and a large number of people started joining him.

“Narmada Ke Pathika”, a book written on the ‘Narmada Parikrama’ by Singh’s long-time associate OP Sharma, narrates a number of stories related to the yatra. Sharma said that people see only the political impact of this non-political journey and it happens because he (Singh) is a politician, but it has social, religious and economic impact too.

“Wherever he went, people received him enthusiastically and shared their problems with him because he is a politician. But, on the other side, during the journey, he met with challenges of his own, perhaps he had not realised before it,” Sharma added.

However, the most notable thing which might have surprised those who have an anti-Hindu image of Digvijaya Singh on their mind, is that the person who is vocal against saffron and the RSS, carried out his ‘Narmada Parikrama’ with a saffron flag and even praised the RSS cadre for their help.

In his book, O P Sharma mentions a brief discussion on religious issues between Digvijaya Singh and Swami Nityachetan Maharaj at an ashram on the banks of the Narmada.

In an excerpt from the book:

Digvijaya Singh what do you think about religion? the Swami asked, and he (Digvijaya) replied – “I don’t know much about religion, but I have read religious texts. First I read three versions of the Bhagvad Gita, then two versions of the Quran, after that I read the Bible and then the Guru Granth Sahib. But, Swami Vivekanada’s thoughts on religion were more factual to me.”

The Swami said, “It’s good that you read about all religions. You are on the path of religion now.”

Digvijaya said, “Swami ji, but people consider me as anti-Hindu. Neither am I anti-Hindu nor pro-Muslim. I am against those who use religion for politics, whether they are Hindu or Muslim or from any other religion.”

The Swami said, “But you had supported SIMI (Students Islamic Movement of India).”

Digvijaya replied, “Maharaj ji, I would like to inform you that I was the first who put a ban on SIMI during my tenure as the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh.”

Their dialogue continued and after a few hours, the Swami while addressing the people at the ashram said, “Digvijaya Singh is not what I had heard about him. He is quite different from my perception, who lives with religion.”

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