MP govt talks about ban on political programmes, Congress says it wants to target opposition
Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan directed, according to the state government’s official spokesperson, ministers not to undertake any public tour till August 14.Updated: Aug 01, 2020 07:43 IST
Congress leaders in Madhya Pradesh said on Friday the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led state government’s ban on political activities in the state till August 14 was to prevent them from campaigning for the by-polls to the 27 legislative assembly seats.
Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan directed, according to the state government’s official spokesperson, ministers not to undertake any public tour till August 14. He also asked them to hold meetings only through video conferencing and virtual rallies and at the same time they should not meet more than five people at a time at their homes too.
“Saving people’s life is more important than the election. Hence, any public programme should not be organised by public representatives. In case of violation of the guidelines, action will be taken to impose fine and register cases against the violators,” Chouhan said during a review meeting on Thursday night over the coronavirus pandemic through a video conferencing from the hospital, where he is being treated.
Narendra Saluja , Congress’ state unit president’s media coordinator, questioned the chief minister’s decision.
“Why should the CM talk of a ban on political programmes and action in this regard when there is already a ban on social, religious and political gatherings in the state? Did the CM and other BJP leaders not violate it on many occasions during the Covid situation? Why is he serious about a ban on political functions only after he, three of his ministers and two top BJP leaders were affected by Covid?” Saluja asked.
Saluja said the fact was that Chouhan knows that there are by-elections to the 27 assembly constituencies and being a Covid-19 patient he, his three ministerial colleagues and some other BJP leaders including the state BJP president VD Sharma can’t move around as they had been doing before.
“Hence, his message to the authorities in the state is to target the Congress if it wants to organise any kind of programme while following all kinds of safety norms against Corona,” he said.
Vivek Tankha, senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha member, said the chief minister’s announcement “was funny”.
“In fact, it’s the CM and other BJP leaders who made a mockery of safety norms in all these months. If the government really wants action on violations action must be taken against all those BJP leaders who violated norms in all these months,” Tankha said.
“I have been saying from day one that there should be no gathering of any kind in the interest of people of the state. But there have been repeated violations of safety norms through political programmes by the BJP leaders. It not only invited problem for them but it is also responsible for the present alarming Covid situation in the state,” Tankha added.
Dr Hitesh Bajpai, a BJP leader, said the Congress was “playing a petty politics over Covid situation”.
“It shows their apathy that they see the government’s concern over the situation and its instructions as a means to target the Opposition. Those in the government and the organisation were affected because they have been in the forefront in fighting Covid and protecting people of the state unlike the state Congress president Kamal Nath who has been conspicuous by his absence in his party and in public both,” Bajpai said.
The Election Commission is yet to announce the date for the by-polls in the state. Twenty-five of the 27 seats fell vacant following the resignation of Congress legislators, who later joined the BJP.
By-polls for 24 assembly constituencies are to be held by September 22 as the law provides for filling the vacancies in the assembly within six months of the seats falling vacant.