Two days after a Congress bandh against corruption shut Madhya Pradesh down, Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan called a bandh for March 6 if the Centre doesn’t grant Rs.5,000 crore as relief for crops lost due to rain and hail in the State last week.
Mr. Chouhan met President Pranab Mukherjee in New Delhi on Sunday and asked him to grant a relief package for farmers in almost 10,000 villages who lost their crops and cattle. He told a gathering in Vidisha, where he went to inspect some affected villages: “There is some responsibility Delhi has to bear. When I went there yesterday, I met the President but the Prime Minister did not meet me.”
“By March 5, if the Prime Minister and his Cabinet do not give any package, Madhya Pradesh will face a bandh on March 6. The whole State will shut down and farmers will be on the streets; wherever there is a road they will block it for an hour and open the eyes of the government in Delhi so we can get our due,” he said.
Mr. Chouhan’s call for the bandh, at public meetings at Rajgarh and Vidisha, came three hours after Congress members marched to attend the budget session of the Assembly, with black banners, demanding that the State grant compensation for the harvest lost during last year’s monsoon.
Leader of the Opposition Satyadev Katare said the Congress would bring in a resolution in the Assembly to condemn “the unconstitutional declaration of a bandh by the Chief Minister.”
Former Additional Solicitor General of India Vivek Tankha told The Hindu that there are rulings of several high courts against bandhs. “The Bombay High Court in 2004 fined the Shiv Sena and the BJP for calling a bandh when they were in power. Several high courts have ruled that bandhs are not permissible as the affect the right to livelihood of people... It is high time the Supreme Court and High Courts take bandhs more seriously.”
Political columnist ND Sharma opined that the call for bandh was “anarchic” and was a statement on the decline of propriety in politics. “The bandh is to divert attention from his own problems. With corruption scams against the state government coming out everyday, Chouhan is going to find a hard to make his bandh find resonance with the people.”
In a reply to Congress MLA Arif Aqueel, the government on Monday admitted to several scams in various examinations for recruitment and medical entrances conducted by the Professional Examination Board. No politician has been charged for the scam, in which at least a thousand fraudulent recruitments and 153 illegal medical admissions, have taken place. The opposition is demanding the cases be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation.