Taking a dig at Shivraj Singh Chouhan for going on a hunger strike, the Shiv Sena today said the Madhya Pradesh chief minister used Gandhian means to quell the farmers’ movement even as his party president described Mahatma Gandhi as a “chatur baniya”. A chief minister’s role is to govern, the BJP’s bickering ally said. Going on fast was Mahatma Gandhi’s tool to fight against injustice towards Indians and today neither the Britishers nor the Congress were ruling the country, the Sena said in an editorial in its party mouthpiece Saamana. Chouhan sat on an indefinite fast on Saturday, appealing for peace to farmers demanding loan waivers and remunerative prices for their produce. He ended it the next day while announcing a slew of schemes but issued a stern warning to those who engaged in “incendiary activities”.
A day before Chouhan’s fast, BJP chief Amit Shah said in Raipur on Friday that Mahatma Gandhi was a “chatur baniya”, a reference to the mercantile caste to which he was born, who had rightly advised dissolution of the Congress after Independence. The Sena said in its editorial, “While BJP president Amit Shah was commenting on Mahatma Gandhi, his senior party leader was using Gandhian means to solve the problems of his state. The role of a chief minister is to govern.”
“The chief minister going on a hunger strike against protests in his state is a victory of Gandhian thoughts. But Gandhiji, Sardar (Vallabhbhai) Patel readied farmers to fight against the injustice and cruelty and used Gandhian thoughts to pose a challenge to the Britishers,” it said. Citing Chouhan’s example to taunt the Devendra Fadnavis-led Maharashtra government, the Sena said the Madhya Pradesh chief minister’s fast at least showed his sensitivity towards farmers, not like Maharashtra politicians who tried to create a rift between cultivators.
“Chouhan did not play dirty politics of terming the stir of farmers as a stir of anti-social elements,” the Sena, which is the BJP’s oldest ally, added. Farmers in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, both ruled by BJP-led governments, went on the warpath June 1 over various demands, including loan waivers and remunerative prices for their produce. In Maharashtra, after a couple of days of the stir, a group of farmers had claimed that their agitation was called off after talks with Chief Minister Fadnavis.
However, later another section of farmers said the strike was still on. The Maharashtra government yesterday announced a loan waiver for farmers and decided to form a committee to decide the criteria of debt relief, after which the cultivators called off their protests.