The BJP was protesting against the drifting attitude of the administration and declining law and order in the state.
For those used to watching subdued demonstrations by the Congress against the former BJP government in Madhya Pradesh for 15 years, the first major protest by the BJP came as a striking reminder of its decibel power and meticulously organised and executed protests.
'Congress bhagao, Madhya Pradesh bachao' was the theme for the day-long drive.
The Collectorate located on the busy Bhopal-Indore highway was an ideal location for the protests as it witnessed a massive traffic jam in almost no time. The water cannons came into play fairly early after the protesters tried to gherao the collector's office. Though no one was injured the cannons took a while to disperse the crowd on a busy road.
BJP workers came out in large numbers defying inclement weather and prohibition orders under section 144 in Bhopal and other towns blowing conches, tolling bells and sounding 'thalis' and cymbals. The agitation was led by BJP state chief and MP Rakesh Singh at Bhopal and former Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan at Vidisha and other senior leaders at different district heaquarters.
It left a telling impact with abiding images of sleeping 'Kumbhakarna' refusing to respond to the noise. The party had requisitioned many vehicles for the protests.
Rakesh Singh led hundreds of workers who were detained during the rallies in most major towns. Singh said his party had informed the government about the preparations for a peaceful demonstration. Still the Congress government imposed Section 144 to quell the protests.
Bhopal Collector Tarun Pithode said that this section has been already in force for a week now. Singh held a meeting in the party office on Tuesday in Bhopal. The BJP state president had asked all the councillors to mobilise at least 50 workers each.
The target for Bhopal councillors was to gather 5,000 workers. Most of them were either dispersed or rounded up before reaching the collectorate. Over 130 persons were detained in Bhopal during the protest by 2.30 p.m., said a government official. The other districts also recorded nearly 800 arrests as per preliminary reports.
Singh said that this movement is to bring justice to the people of Madhya Pradesh and to awaken the government from its deep slumber. He said that the debt of farmers in the state has not been waived, unemployment allowance is not being paid, electricity bills have not been halved, the condition of roads is pathetic, law and order is dissatisfactory and corruption is at its peak.
The Congress which had announced to match the opposition noise decibel for decibel by organising 'dholak' processions seemed to have dropped the idea in view of the prohibition orders.
The Congress plans to organise press conferences at all district headquarters to publicise its government's achievements through the past nine months. Chief Minister Kamal Nath himself toured the Jhabua district on Wednesday to counter the BJP campaign.
The BJP had made at least 15,000 promises during its 15-year rule. But the state had only marched backwards on all indices, Nath said. Nath's visit was to launch a campaign for the by-election for the Jhabua constituency.
( With inputs from IANS )