CM Shivraj to visit farmers’ kin in Mandsaur today, Scindia to protest ‘apathy’

Chouhan and his government were criticised by the Opposition for not visiting the families. Except minister Archna Chitnis, no one else visited Mandsaur since the death of the six farmers.

india Updated: Jun 14, 2017 10:12 IST
Hindustan Times, Bhopal
Mandsaur,Farmers Agitation,Shivraj Singh Chouhan
Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chauhan, who sat on a fast, will visit the families of the dead farmers on Wednesday.(PTI Photo)

More than a week after six farmers were killed during their agitation in Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan — who sat on a fast for restoration of peace in the state — will visit the families of the victims on Wednesday .

Chouhan and his government were criticised by the Opposition for not visiting the families, and for rather choosing a ‘pre-scripted’ indefinite fast for restoration of peace in the state. The fast lasted just 27 hours.

When the chief minister visits Mandsaur, 378 km north-west of Bhopal, Congress MP from Guna and former Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia will begin a 72-hour satyagraha in Bhopal against the government’s “apathy and attitude towards farmers”.

Except minister for women and child welfare Archna Chitnis, none of the other ministers or any senior state or police official visited Mandsaur since the death of the six farmers on June 6. Five farmers were killed in police firing and another due to injuries sustained in a lathi-charge by police.

The Congress is expected to go out all guns blazing against the ruling BJP, which is in power in the state since 2003.

Many Congress leaders are expected to join Scindia on the dais when he begins his satyagraha around 3pm.

Many opposition leaders questioned the chief minister’s ‘peace fast’ as they say it was the state government which was to blame for inapt handling of the agitation.

Scindia, who was arrested near Jaora in Ratlam on Tuesday, hit out at Chouhan, saying if he was not allowed to visit Mandsaur due to prohibitory orders, it meant there was no peace.

And when there was no peace, the chief minister should have not ended his fast. “Was it a drama?” Scindia asked.

On Wednesday, Chouhan will hand over cheques of Rs 1 crore each to the next of kin of the deceased farmers.

In an unprecedented move, the chief minister had announced ex-gratia payment of Rs 1 crore – an amount which is not given even to families of martyrs in the state.

State BJP spokesperson Rajneesh Agarwal justified the chief minister’s visit more than a week after the violence, saying Chouhan must have taken into consideration the law and order situation in deciding when to visit.

The stakes are high for Chouhan, who calls himself a farmer’s son and is depending on the 20 million farm and agricultural labour population to carry him to a fourth term in the 2018 assembly election.

According to official figures, one farmer commits suicide every five hours in Madhya Pradesh.

First Published: Jun 14, 2017 09:41 IST