Modi shies away from naming Shivraj Singh Chouhan in recent speeches: Priyanka Gandhi Vadra

The Congress leader voices the speculation that the M.P. CM is being sidelined by the BJP leadership; says delayed implementation of the women’s reservation law is an insult to women voters by the BJP

Updated - October 12, 2023 01:04 pm IST

Published - October 06, 2023 12:17 am IST - BHOPAL

Congress General Secretary Priyanka GandhiVadra addresses a public meeting, in Dhar on Thursday.

Congress General Secretary Priyanka GandhiVadra addresses a public meeting, in Dhar on Thursday. | Photo Credit: ANI

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has been sidelined by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) top leadership, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress national general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra claimed on Thursday. She also targeted the Union government over the new law for women’s reservation in legislative bodies.

Addressing a public rally at Mohankheda in the Dhar district of M.P.’s Malwa region, Ms. Gandhi took potshots at the BJP, saying that Mr. Modi was now shying away from naming Mr. Chouhan in his campaign speeches. 

“I was listening to Modi ji’s speech. Nowadays, he shies away from taking his [Mr. Chouhan’s] name. Shivraj is not going to be your CM anymore. Modi ji talks about Congress over 50 times in a 50-minute address. Congress workers should be happy about it,” she said.

The Congress leader seemed to be hinting at the speculation that the BJP might not pick Mr. Chouhan to lead its government if it returns to power in the State, which is expected to go to polls soon.

Women not a ‘joke’

Accusing the BJP-led Union government of introducing the Women’s Reservation Bill in Parliament last month to woo female voters in the upcoming elections, she asked whether the ruling party treated women as a “joke”.

“We also supported the Bill, but now we find out that it will not be effective for 10 years. First a census has to be conducted, then delimitation exercise, for this [law] to be implemented. Do you think of women as a joke who will vote for you blindly?” she asked, adding, “This [law] is not a favour to women by the BJP government. This is our right.”

She also slammed the M.P. government’s record on women’s safety. “Most number of women and girls are kidnapped in M.P. Everyday, 17 women are raped. But they will try to distract you by big promises of money and reservation. Don’t let them distract you. Women need to take control of who will come to power now. They are playing a political game with you,” she said.

Caste survey findings

In her 47-minute speech, Ms. Gandhi covered a wide range of subjects, from the Bihar caste survey to multiple alleged scams involving the Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led government. 

Invoking the Bihar caste survey’s findings, Ms. Gandhi batted for equal representation for various communities in higher government positions, as per their population share. 

“It was revealed in Bihar that the OBCs, Dalits and STs comprise 84% of the State’s population. In that case, should people from these caste groups have the same representation in top government posts that hold power,” she said, alleging that the BJP goes silent when this issue is raised.

ED raids

Accusing the BJP government in M.P. of having done nothing over the past 18 years of being in power, Ms. Gandhi said, “[PM Modi] should talk about the development works of his party’s government as many times as he talks about the Congress. He cannot do this because they have not worked at all.”

Ms. Gandhi also slammed the BJP over the raids against Opposition leaders being carried out by Central agencies like the Enforcement Directorate (ED), Income Tax Department, and the Central Bureau of Investigation. Her remarks come just a day after the Aam Aadmi’s Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh was arrested by the ED following a raid at his residence in New Delhi, in connection with the Delhi excise policy case. Mr. Singh is the third senior AAP leader to get arrested after Manish Sisodia and Satyendar Jain.

“Whenever someone speaks against them, they send the ED to their house. Now the ED is also raiding film actors,” she said.

“There have been over 250 scams in M.P. in the last 18 years. More than 50 people lost their lives due to the Vyapam scam here. Did they get it investigated? Why did the ED not come here to raid the houses of their leaders,” Ms. Gandhi asked.

Striking an emotional chord with the people of Dhar, she said that her grandmother, former PM Indira Gandhi, who had once visited a Jain pilgrim site in Mohankheda, had immense love for the people of the region and would tell her stories about it. Ms. Gandhi, accompanied by M.P. Congress chief Kamal Nath, also visited the Jain shrine before the rally.

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