Congress focuses on minority appeasement, Modi on welfare of tribals, Dalits and poor: Shah in M.P.

The Union Home Minister was addressing a public rally during a function organised to flag off the BJP’s ‘Jan Ashirwad Yatra’, a mass-contact programme, in Madhya Pradesh’s Mandla

Published - September 05, 2023 08:18 pm IST - RAIPUR

Union Home Minister Amit Shah with Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and others during the launch of the BJP’s Jan Ashirwad Yatra, in Mandla district.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah with Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and others during the launch of the BJP’s Jan Ashirwad Yatra, in Mandla district. | Photo Credit: PTI

Attacking the Indian National Congress in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh, Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday said that the people would have to choose between the ideology of minority appeasement versus one that worked for tribal communities, backward classes, Dalits and the poor. 

Inaugurating the third of the five Jan Aashirwads Yatras, a pre-election outreach programme in Mandla – a key tribal belt within the Mahakoshal region, Mr. Shah referred to a 17-year-old speech by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as he sought to draw a distinction between the current dispensation led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. 

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“I have come to tell all the brothers and sisters from the tribal society in Madhya Pradesh. There was a United Progressive Alliance government, a Congress government, a government of [former CM] Kamal Nath and bantadhar [meaning Demolished, used here as reference to former CM Digvijaya Singh] had government at the Centre. Manmohan Singh was the PM, he made a statement… he said that minorities have the first claim on the country’s treasury. Everyone protested, but he did not agree,” he said. 

Mr. Shah went on to claim that the previous Congress government remained engrossed in minority appeasement but things changed after 2014 when Mr. Modi entered the scene.  

“On the one hand, the Congress party claims that minorities have the right over the country’s treasury and on the other hand, the country’s PM and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Narendra Modiji says that the tribals and the poor have a right to the country’s treasury,” added the Home Minister. 

The budget for tribal welfare has been increased to ₹1.19 lakh crore by the Modi government from ₹24,000 crore during the Manmohan Singh government, the Home Minister stated.

Also Read | The ‘vulnerable’ factor: BJP pips Congress with timing in Madhya Pradesh

While Dr. Singh’s speech made at the meeting of the National Development Council in December 2006 had drawn criticism from the BJP back then too, archival records show that the Prime Minister’s Office had issued a clarification that he “had been quoted out of context in some sections of the electronic media, fuelling a baseless controversy”.

“It will be seen from the above that the Prime Minister’s reference to ‘first claim on resources’ refers to all the ‘priority’ areas listed above, including programmes for the upliftment of SCs, STs, OBCs, women and children and minorities,” the PMO clarification had added sharing the full text of the speech.  

Mr. Shah hailed Mr. Modi and Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan for tribal welfare initiatives taken at the Central and State levels. Tribals constitute 21% of the population of Madhya Pradesh and 47 out of the 230 Assembly seats are reserved for them. Out of these 47 seats, the BJP was reduced to 18 in 2018, a sharp decline from the 37 it won in the 2013 election. The Congress, that won 31 seats in the last election, enjoyed a short stint in power. 

Of the five Jan Aashirwad Yatras the one in Mandla has been routed with tribals in focus. Making a tweak to the format of this pre-election programme of the BJP calendar in Madhya Pradesh, the BJP has announced five yatras this time to symbolise ‘collective leadership’ unlike the past where Mr. Chouhan used to take out a single yatra. All these yatras would culminate at an event in Bhopal on September 25.

Mr. Shah was scheduled to inaugurate another such yatra in Sheopur later in the evening but could not reach there because of weather conditions. He addressed the event through phone.  

Meanwhile, at the Mandla event, Mr. Shah predicted that the BJP would win 150 seats. He praised Mr. Chouhan for ridding M.P. of the BIMARU tag, an acronym made out of initials of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh — implying that these States lagged behind in development indicators — and converting it into a bemisaal (matchless) State. 

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