A day after Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda was booed at a function attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Congress on Wednesday said there was a “design” behind such incidents and said no self-respecting opposition chief minister should attend the “political functions” of Modi.
This came even as Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said he would not attend the function on Thursday in which Modi will inaugurate the Nagpur metro rail project. Chavan, who was also booed at a recent function at Solapur, cited “possibility of ruckus by BJP workers” as one of the reasons for his decision.
Party sources said many Congress leaders were of the view that as far as possible Congress chief ministers should follow only the minimum
protocol during the prime minister’s visit and not be rushing to attend his functions as such incidents can be “engineered” by the BJP for political gains in poll-bound states. Congress president Sonia Gandhi has also been apprised of the view in writing. There is a likelihood that the leadership may ask its chief ministers to adopt a cautious approach. Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren should be cautious. It’s not only about Congress chief ministers. All self-respecting chief ministers of the opposition should avoid political functions of Modi, which are being held in the name of public functions,” AICC general secretary in-charge for Haryana Shakeel Ahmed was quoted by PTI as saying.
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His reaction came a day after the Hooda faced embarrassment during the foundation stone laying function of a highway project by Modi in Haryana. As he rose to deliver his speech, the crowd raised slogans against him and the Congress government. There was continuous hooting against the two-time Chief Minister of Haryana, which goes to polls in October, and pro-Modi slogans were raised, much to Hooda’s discomfort. Later, Hooda blamed BJP for the incident.
Ahmed said that this seems to be the modus operandi of the BJP and Modi to embarrass opposition chief ministers in poll-bound states. “This has happened both in Haryana and Maharashtra. Party cadre are called to embarrass chief ministers of other parties deliberately,” he said.
Citing the reasons behind his decision to skip the Nagpur function, Chavan told The Indian Express, “No invitation letter was received from Union Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu, no communication received on whether the project has received approval of the Union Cabinet and the possibility of ruckus by BJP workers as it happened to Haryana CM Hooda the other day.”
He was also critical of Modi’s jibe at him in Solapur. “He asked me why I didn’t seek coal from the UPA government for power projects. Is this the way to say things,” Chavan said.
Asked if he was open to attending the programme should he get the invite, Chavan said, “I can’t decide that now. And also what about the possibility of ruckus like the way it happened in Haryana the other day? It all seems to be going in a planned manner.”