The controversy over the installation of a statue of former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Arjun Singh at a spot once occupied by a bust of Chandrashekhar Azad took another turn on Thursday with a descendant of the freedom fighter threatening to begin a fast-unto-death if the Congress leader’s statue is not removed.
Installed at a trisection on Link Road No 1 in the state capital, the full-size statue of Singh was to be unveiled on November 11 by Chief Minister Kamal Nath but the ceremony was postponed because prohibitory orders had been imposed in view of the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi verdict.
More than ten days later, there’s no clarity on the fate of the partially-covered statue, with the BJP-ruled Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC) saying it will be shifted to a place that had been selected earlier. The Congress however, has not made its stand clear on the issue.
The Congress is on the defensive because the BJP, while maintaining that it’s not against the former CM’s statue, has framed the controversy as a choice between a revolutionary freedom fighter and a Congress leader.
Not surprisingly, when Azad’s descendant Amit Tiwari visited the bust, he was accompanied by mayor Alok Sharma and other BJP leaders. Amit said installing Singh’s statue where Azad’s bust once stood was an insult. He said he did not find it wrong when the bust had been removed three years ago for better traffic management but found it insulting to see a politician’s statue take its place. He added that if the statue was not removed by December 2, he would launch an indefinite fast at the same spot. He also called on Governor Lalji Tandon with other BJP leaders.
BMC chairman Surjit Singh Chouhan said the municipal body had passed a resolution to install Singh’s statue at another intersection, a few kilometers away. He added that the file was pending clearance from the political wing.
Recently, a public interest litigation was filed in the Madhya Pradesh High Court seeking a directive against installing the statue citing a ruling by the Supreme Court.
The court has not passed any order and adjourned the matter for hearing in the first week of December.
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