Personal attacks by politicians against each other have intensified as the by-election for 28 assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh (MP), which are likely to be held with the upcoming Bihar polls in end-November, draws closer.
Though the Election Commission of India (ECI) had earlier announced that polls would be held in end-November, no dates have been announced yet.
Several ministers of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and belonging to chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s cabinet are involved in personal attacks. But the ministers claim that themselves and the CM have been at the receiving end of the personal attacks by rival Congress leaders.
Suresh Raje, who is slated to contest the upcoming assembly by-polls from Dabra constituency on a Congress ticket in MP’s Gwalior-Chambal region against state minister for Woman and Child Development (WCD) Imrati Devi, has been accused of making provocative personal comments against his opponent and her family members a few days ago.
Devi and the ruling BJP also fired a salve at Raje amid the Congress distancing itself from his alleged comments.
Raje denied that he insulted the minister. Devi slammed the Congress and alleged that the comments exposed the opposition party’s mindset.
In another incident, state minister for tourism, culture and adhyatm Usha Thakur regretted her statement that she had made against a tribal youth organisation in MP’s Malwa region on Saturday.
Thakur reportedly described Jay Adivasi Yuva Shakti (JAYS) as an anti-national outfit while speaking at a programme in her assembly constituency Mhow. She questioned the organisation for working among tribals and urged the public to take a pledge not to allow the outfit’s alleged anti-national activities in the region.
The minister’s statement drew condemnation from JAYS and the Congress, who demanded her resignation from the Chouhan cabinet.
The BJP was quick to dissociate itself from Thakur’s remarks. The minister also put out a statement on Monday, where she regretted for her momentary lapse of reason.
“I respect all such organisations that are working for the uplift of the tribals. I apologise for my statement, if it has hurt anyone. My statement stemmed from my pain and anguish that I had undergone due to certain elements making attempts to mislead tribals and convert them to other faiths while creating hurdles in the way of my public welfare work.”
However, JAYS’ members were not assuaged by the minister’s apology and staged a protest at Mhow on Tuesday.
Heeralal Alawa, a founder member of the organisation and a Congress lawmaker, said, “The minister’s statement ahead of the by-polls is not a coincidence. It is a part of the BJP’s pre-planned strategy for the upcoming by-polls. The party wants to provoke the tribals against the organisation and better its prospects on those by-poll seats, where the indigenous people of the state hold the sway.”
Similarly, state minister for cooperatives Arvind Bhadauria, who belongs to the Gwalior-Chambal region and had played a key role in the defection of the Congress lawmakers to the BJP in March, is in his parent party’s crosshairs.
Former CMs Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh and ex-minister Jitu Patwari have all piled up on him for his act of betrayal by switching sides that led to the collapse of the Congress government in MP.
However, Bhadauria has not fallen for his former party leaders’ provocative jibes.
Kamal Nath and CM Chouhan have also locked horns over the Congress’s claims that it had waived loans of over two million farmers when the party was in power.
The slanging match is restricted to the alleged use of the word “nalayak” by Kamal Nath against the CM.
“Shivraj ji says Congress didn’t waive farmers’ loans in 10 days. Shivraj ji, are you so incapable (nalayak) that you can’t see the loan waiver in the records? It’s for the first time that not only current loans but also those of the defaulters were waived off (by the then Congress government).” Kamal Nath, who heads the MP Pradesh Congress Committee (MPPCC), had reportedly said at an election rally in Gwalior on September 19.
Chouhan reacted to Kamal Nath’s use of the adjective.
“I have no objection, if Kamal Nath ji likes to indulge in mudslinging. It’s the public which decides who is capable and who is not. He himself should think about the capability quotient. Who takes care of the state with an unbiased outlook, respects the poor, formulates schemes for farmers’ welfare and ensures uplift of girl child,” the CM had hit back at his predecessor.
Political analyst Dinesh Gupta sees a pattern and discernible trend in these personal attacks.
“It’s unfortunate that whenever elections draw closer, we see a similar surcharged atmosphere. Instead, political parties and leaders should discuss the development issues and welfare of the public. There is seldom any debate on lack of roads, electricity, irrigation, poverty, farmers, unemployment etc. Serious issues are always glossed over and trivial matters take a centre stage in the run up to an election.”
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