After taking on the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party for its alleged links with Rajendra Kaswa, the main accused in the Petlawad blast, the Opposition Congress has now targeted local MLA Nirmala Bhuria, the likely BJP candidate in the forthcoming Ratlam-Jhabua by-election.
“Shivraj Singh Chouhan has declared an award of Rs 1 lakh for the arrest of absconding Kaswa. Should BJP president Nand Kumar Chauhan announce a similar award on ‘missing’ Petlawad MLA Nirmala Bhuria?” state Congress chief spokesperson KK Mishra asked on Saturday.
Mishra accused Bhuria of shunning the people of her constituency when they needed her the most. “Have you heard her say anything about the blast or blast-affected people or have you seen her at the site of the blast?” he asked.
The ruling party, however, rubbished the allegation as absurd.”KK Mishra is a habitual defaulter. It’s his political short-sightedness that has not allowed him to see Nirmala Bhuria right behind the chief minister in all the footages coming from Petlawad. Mishra needs to review his approach to politics,” retorted BJP state spokesperson Hitesh Bajpai.
Tossing another barb at the BJP, Mishra maintained the party was shielding Bhuria from public wrath. “That is why in her own constituency, where she should be proactive, she needs cover of the chief minister or the home minister to come out and face the public.”
“It shows the political culture of BJP. They are not sensitive towards loss of life and property in the blast that ripped the Petlawad town but is shielding the local MLA so that their poll prospects are not affected. They should review their approach to politics, not me or the Congress,” Mishra countered.
But locals in Petlawad seem unfazed by the war of words between the Congress and BJP. “Initially it was difficult for any politician to face the crowd. Chief minister and home minister also had to face their anger. Congress leader Kantilal Bhuria was also asked to leave by the angry crowd when he came to the site of the incident. Ratlam MLA Chaitnay Kashyap also faced the same situation but after ex-gratia amount was paid and other aids extended, people are not that hostile now and Bhuria is now far more active than in the past, when people were really angry at her apathy towards them,” said Virendra Rathore, a resident of the blast-hit town.
Another Petlawad resident Sachin too said Mishra’s statements were only half true. “She is moving around in the constituency, particularly after the situation improved mainly due to prompt monitory help to affected people, but she is not always around as Congress leader Kantilal Bhuria has been. Still to say that she is missing is going little too far.”
Bhuria, when contacted over phone, said she could not speak as she was out of coverage area.