Amid farmers’ protest in Madhya Pradesh’s Mandsaur district, Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu slammed the Congress on Thursday saying it was using the protest as a photo opportunity. Naidu dismissed the party’s demand for the resignation of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi travelled to Mandsaur today, despite not being granted permission from the state government to visit the families of five farmers who were killed by police firing earlier this week. Farmers in western Madhya Pradesh are demanding an increase in prices for their products and loan waivers.
Follow LIVE updates from Mandsaur here.
“The Congress is instigating and politicising the issue. It should stop doing that and behave as a responsible political party to help restore normalcy there,” Naidu was quoted as saying by PTI. He recalled a similar incident in 1998 in Betul district where 24 farmers were allegedly killed in police firing ordered by the then chief minister and Congress leader Digvijay Singh.
“Did they seek resignation of Singh when the 24 farmers were killed? Did the Congress vice president visit the victim farmers then?” Naidu asked.
Read: As protests spread to other MP areas, Shivraj Singh Chouhan offers farm sops. Click here.
With the state police adamant against allowing Gandhi to visit violence-hit Mandsaur, the leader hopped onto a motorcycle to travel to Mandsaur on Thursday. He was accompanied to the state by Pradesh Congress Committee chief Sachin Pilot and party leaders Digvijay Singh, Girija Vyas and Kamalnath. Visuals, however, show him riding pillion towards Mandsaur.
“Raj & MP Govts are doing their best to prevent me from entering MP & meeting the families of the #farmers killed in #Mandsaur,” Gandhi tweeted. “What law of the land says that it is illegal to stand in solidarity with farmers who were killed simply for demanding what is their right?”
Meanwhile, state Home Minister Bhupendra Singh today retracted his earlier statement and confirmed farmers were killed at the hands of the police earlier this week. “This has been established in the probe,” Singh was quoted as saying by ANI. Read more.
(With inputs from agencies)