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Mandsaur firing was as per protocol, no scam in Narmada sapling plantations: Congress bites its own tail in Madhya Pradesh

Congress had created a political controversy to target the BJP government after the then state government led by BJP said it had planted 6 crore saplings along the Narmada. Yesterday, the Congress government informed the assembly that there has been no financial irregularity in the sapling plantation project.

The Congress government in Madhya Pradesh headed by Kamal Nath has taken a massive u-turn on the issues of the Mandsaur police firing and plantation of 6 crore saplings, which the Congress party had effectively used to target the previous BJP government during the assembly elections.

According to reports, on Monday, Madhya Pradesh Home minister Bala Bachchan speaking in the assembly admitted that police opened fire in Mandsaur “following standard procedure norms, in self-defense. Further, Forest Minister Umang Singhar also clarified that there were no financial irregularities in the plantation drive conducted along the Narmada banks.

While replying to the question of a fellow Congress MLA Harsh Vijay Gahlot, Minister Bachchan said, “On June 6, 2017, police firing at Bahi Chaupati on Mhow-Neemuch Road in the absence of an executive magistrate, was done by complying to SOP for self-defense. It was to protect government and private property. The order was given by SDM Malhargarh, Sharavan Bhandari in Pipliya Mandi.”

On government action on the Justice Jain report, Bachchan said, “The report is being reviewed and appropriate legal action will be taken after examining the findings.” The Jain report had mentioned regarding the “communication gap” between farmers and officials.

The report had said, “The administration wasn’t aware of their demands and did not make any effort to find out. But, the district administration wasn’t in a position to address demands that farmers should get better prices or a loan waiver. Thus, police firing on June 6 was necessary and legal.”

Congress party had used the tragic incidents at Mandsaur to indulge in politics as they had targetted the Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s BJP government before the elections claiming that the state government had deliberately attacked farmers at Mandsaur.

Congress minister Jitu Patwari, who had accompanied AICC chief Rahul Gandhi during his Mandsaur visit in June 2018 had said, “Those who fired at the farmers in Mandsaur shouldn’t be spared.” Patwari, who became Minister after Congress won in Madhya Pradesh had said on December 25, 2018, that the Congress government will “reopen the Mandsaur investigation”.

After the Congress’s U-turn, BJP has hit out at Congress and has asked the Congress to publicly apologise for its fake propaganda. “It was Congress’s planned propaganda to attack BJP over the farmer issue. They misguided farmers and the entire country during assembly elections,” said BJP state spokesperson Rajneesh Agrawal.

Similarly, the Narmada plantation issue was raked up during the state elections as Congress had alleged that there were irregularities in the plantation drive. However, Minister Singhar on Monday said in the House, “The state government has not found any irregularity or misappropriation of funds during the plantation drive on the banks of holy river Narmada. The department has issued instructions to examine the condition of saplings planted on July 2, 2017. There is no question of investigating the matter.”

Congress had created a political controversy to target the BJP government after the then state government led by BJP said it had planted 6 crore saplings along the Narmada. Congress had reacted by saying that it was a big scam in the name of Narmada. “It’s a big scam in the name of Narmada. It’s not only the question of planting 6 crore saplings but also how much expenditure was incurred on it?” the then Congress president Kamal Nath had asked in May 2018. Interestingly, it is his minister who has given a clean chit to the BJP government.

BJP launched a scathing attack on Congress for “misguiding people”. “Now, the forest minister admitted that there was no financial irregularity or misappropriation. Congress must apologize in public for its fake propaganda against BJP,” said Agrawal.

The Congress government in Madhya Pradesh seems to have mastered the art of taking ‘U-turns’ as the Kamal Nath led government has failed to implement its promise of unconditional farm loan waivers in the state. Soon after coming to the power, Kamal Nath had taken a ‘U-turn’ by setting conditions for the farmers to be eligible for farm loan waiver.

The politics of farm loan waivers has already taken the lives of a few farmers in life after the state government failed to write off their loans. Reportedly, a massive loan-waive scam has also been brewing in the state of Madhya Pradesh after reports emerged that various beneficiaries listed by the government eligible for farmer loan waiver did not even exist in reality. Many discrepancies and irregularities are already being unearthed in the loan waiver schemes.

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