Shailesh Pandey, the Congress MLA from Bilaspur seat has demanded Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel to charge Bilaspur district collector Dr Saransh Mittar with sedition for “neglecting and disrespecting” elected representatives by sending them an ordinary invitation card to attend the state foundation day programme held on November 1.
The MLA was particularly peeved as he was not invited as a guest of the Rajyotsav (statehood celebrations) programme with a special invitation.
In the Congress-ruled Chhattisgadh, such a weird demand of a ruling party MLA doesn’t sound unusual since the Congress-ruled government has been accused of misusing sedition charges against political opponents and media persons.
The MLA in the letter sent to the chief minister on November 2 has demanded immediate removal of Bilaspur collector alleging the officer often insults MLAs of the ruling Congress. “He (collector) sent ordinary invitation cards to elected representatives to attend the programme like one given to ordinary people. He has insulted your government, people and public representatives elected by people. This act of collector comes under the category of sedition hence I request you to remove and charge him for sedition,” MLA said.
In the letter, the MLA has lamented that many elected representatives like Zilla Panchayat president, Municipality Chairperson, and other local body leaders were given ‘just ordinary invitation cards like common people’ and not specially invited. He called this an insult against elected representatives.
For the Rajyotsav event in Bilaspur, the district administration had printed the name of the Parliamentary secretary Indrashah Mandavi as the chief guest and no other name was mentioned as a guest. Indrashah Mandavi is the Congress MLA from Mohla-Manpur assembly seat. While the statehood programme was celebrated in all districts of Chhattisgarh, the MLA said that the state government sent the list of persons who were to be chief guests. He said that in other districts, the concerned district collector invited elected representatives with full honour as the guest of the programme. But Bilaspur district collector sent an ordinary invitation to them ‘like common people’.
A Raipur-based journalist said that the possibility can’t be ignored that Shailesh Pandey was deliberately ignored for the programme since he is close to health minister TS Singh Deo who wants to head the state as chief minister for the remaining two and half years.
“But this also exposes classic hypocrisy of the Congress on the issue of sedition law. During elections, Congress speaks against sedition law and promises to scrap there this. But in the Congress-ruled government, there is no restrain on the use of sedition law. Even in minor cases, which was not even an offence, people were booked under sedition law. In June 2019, a person Mangelal Agarwal from Rajnandgaon was arrested under sedition charges after he wrote a post on social media site about the poor condition of the electricity in Chhattisgadh,” said the journalist.