Chhindwara, Madhya Pradesh:
Congress leader Ashok Chavan on Monday compared Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan to infamous British military officer Reginald Dyer, who had ordered the firing on unarmed citizens in Punjab’s Jallianwala Bagh in 1919, killing over a thousand people.
Mr Chavan, who was campaigning at Sausar in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh, brought up the Dyer comparison against the backdrop of the police firing on farmers in Mandsaur district of the state in June last year.
Six farmers, part of massive crowds protesting against poor crop prices and demanding farm loan waivers from the Chouhan government, had died in the firing on June 6 last year.
“Like General Dyer had fired on poor Indians under the British Raj, Chouhan fired on innocent farmers in Mandsaur,” the Maharashtra Congress chief said.
He alleged that Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and his Madhya Pradesh counterpart Mr Chouhan had lied about farm loan waivers, adding that both were running “feku sarkars” (governments prone to hyperbole).
Mr Chavan claimed that the previous Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government under then prime minister Manmohan Singh had announced a historic farm loan waiver scheme in 2009. Mr Chavan was the Maharashtra chief minister at the time.
Hitting out at Mr Chouhan over the Vyapam scam, the Congress leader said, “Vyapam left thousands unemployed. Today is Constitution Day, but Chouhan is running an unconstitutional government in Madhya Pradesh. With what face can the BJP ask you for votes?”
He alleged that the sand mafia was looting natural resources worth thousands of crores of rupees in the state and crimes against women were rising.
Mr Chavan said the only slogan people were now coming up with was “ek hi bhool, kamal ka phool” (choosing the “lotus”, the BJP’s poll symbol, was a mistake).
Attacking the Shiv Sena and BJP for raising the Ram temple issue, he claimed that the two parties were indulging in divisive politics.
“The BJP’s false promises of development have been exposed. Now their only cry is ‘mandir wahi banayenge’. They want to trigger fights between Hindus, Muslims and Dalits, but the people of India will not be fooled,” Mr Chavan said.
He praised Madhya Pradesh Congress chief Kamal Nath for ushering in development in Chhindwara, adding that the opposition party would win the November 28 state Assembly polls under his leadership.