Guna (Madhya Pradesh): A Madhya Pradesh minister has stirred a controversy by reportedly asking Congress members in the state to join the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) or face the threat of demolition by the chief minister's bulldozer.
A video of Panchayat Minister Mahendra Singh Sisodia making the remarks at a public meeting in Ruthiyai town here on Wednesday has gone viral on social media.
Like some other BJP-ruled states, the state government has been bulldozing the alleged illegal portions of the houses of people accused of various offences, a practice that has often been hailed by CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, popularly called 'mama', as a symbol of his government's "zero tolerance" towards crime and criminals.
"Listen Congress members - join the BJP. Move towards this side (ruling party) slowly. In 2023 (when Assembly polls are scheduled in the state) too, the BJP will form a government in MP. Mama's bulldozer is ready," Sisodia reportedly said at the gathering while canvassing for Friday's Raghogarh Nagar civic polls.
Reacting strongly to his remarks, Congress's Rajya Sabha member and former chief minister Digvijaya Singh tweeted in Hindi, "People of Raghogarh are not cowards that they will get afraid of such threats. The people of Raghogarh will vote fearlessly..." Congress MLA from Raghogarh Jaivardhan Singh said the minister's remark reflects his "negative mentality".
"As BJP has nothing to highlight in terms of development, its leader makes such comments. We have always done politics of uniting people and not breaking them. The Congress will win all 24 wards of the Nagar Palika," he told reporters.
Congress MLA from Chachonda and Digvijaya Singh's younger brother Laxman Singh said that even the BJP does not take Sisodia seriously.
Guna district Congress chief Harishankar Vijaywargiya said the minister's remarks have sullied the image of the BJP.
"He should exercise restraint in his language. The people of Raghogarh will give a befitting reply to him on January 20 in the polls," he said.
However, coming out in defence of Sisodia, state BJP spokesman Pankaj Chaturvedi said in Bhopal, "Whatever the minister had said is intended to warn those indulging in illegal activities and for them a bulldozer is always ready. The government uses bulldozers as per the legally-approved process." "Congressmen are afraid as probably they indulge in such activities where there is a possibility of bulldozer's intervention," he said.
Raghogarh is the home turf of Digvijaya Singh. His son Jaiwardhan Singh is the local MLA.
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