Digvijay Singh plays BJP’s game, unwittingly
Posted July 27, 2011on:
Digvijay Singh has unwittingly played the BJP’s game in Madhya Pradesh and helped chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan sidetrack an issue which could have become quite embarrassing for his government.
Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Ajay Singh issued on July 17 what he called “black paper” (as opposed to the white paper which is issued by the government) alleging serious bungling in the purchase of wheat in the State. The ten-page “black paper” estimates the scam amounting to around Rs 500 crore. The same day the AICC general secretary clashed with the BJP/BJYM workers, who were protesting against his observations on Sanghi terrorists at Ujjain where Digvijay Singh had gone to have darshan of Mahakal. The photographs showed the former chief minister chasing the BJP/BJYM activists. He was also reported to have slapped some protestor.
That, however, is beside the point as is the real intention of the protestors. Germane to the point is the complete shift of focus of the party and the media from the Rs 500-crore wheat scam of the Chauhan government to the BJP-Digvijay Singh clash. It became a prestige issue for the Congress party, as a party leader pointed out. While the party workers led by PCC chief Kantilal Bhuria held demonstrations and burnt effigies outside the Assembly, the party MLAs led by Ajay Singh expressed their loyalty to the AICC general secretary by creating ruckus inside the House.
The Congress moved an adjournment motion on the alleged attack on the former chief minister. Speaker Ishwardas Rohani, who in the past had adopted detestable tactics and had even gone to the extent of adjourning the House ahead of the schedule to avoid a discussion on the Opposition-sponsored motions on the matters of public interest, readily adopted the motion for a discussion. The chief minister was only too happy to have a discussion on the issue on the following day.
So, the House remained occupied with Digvijay Singh for another day. Since such debates are based less on facts and more on emotions, Chauhan with his demagoguery carried the day. In the midst of all this hullaballoo, Minister of State for Food and Civil Supplies Paras Chandra Jain issued a facile statement in the Assembly claiming that complete transparency had been maintained in the purchase of wheat, that action had been taken wherever irregularities had been detected and that the Leader of Opposition had made the allegations on hearsay. The government thus got away without a full discussion on the issue and without dealing with each of the questions raised in the “black paper”.
Some of the salient points made in the “black paper” are:
• The government had declared Chhatarpur and Tikamgarh districts as drought-affected. How come it procured lakhs of tonnes of wheat from this area?
• Govind Moolaji runs a canteen in Harda. He owns around ten acres of land. The government purchased from him more than 800 quintals of wheat at the support price of Rs 10 lakh. According to the agricultural standards, Harda district produces a maximum of 20 quintals of wheat per acre. How was Moolaji able to show his excessive produce?
• Ramkrishna Patel is a member of Fanwani Marketing Society of Sihora tehsil of Jabalpur district. He received the payment of Rs 5 lakh for selling his produce to the Society. A few days later, Patel received another cheque of Rs 5 lakh from the Sihora Marketing Society. He is not even a member of the Sihora Marketing Society but wheat was sold there in his name. A couple of days later a trader approached him and wanted the cheque to be given to him. Patel, however, refused to hand over the cheque to the trader but returned it to the Sihora Marketing Society, with his letter.
• The caretaker of the Civil Supplies Corporation godown at Ashoknagar had refused to accept 500 quintals of wheat as he had found that it was from the previous season. The sample tests had also shown it to be old. The wheat was sent on behalf of Ashoknagar Dogra Purchase Centre. Under pressure from the minister, the officers took another sample and declared it fresh. The District Panchayat president and others who were present when the old wheat was accepted as fresh made a complaint to the Collector who promised an inquiry. But no inquiry has so far been ordered.
• The Rajgarh Warehouse sent 360 bags of wheat in a truck on June 25 to the Byaora Warehouse but only 300 bags had reached there.
• Wheat purchased from Uttar Pradesh was shown as having been purchased from the local farmers in Pichhor and Khaniadhana tehsils of Shivpuri district.
• In a spot check the Raisen Collector seized 375 bags of rotten wheat (purchased at support price) from the Gairatganj Seva Sahakari Samiti in Raisen district. Similarly, 500 quintals of rotten wheat was discovered at the Sahakari Seva Samiti of Mungawali tehsil in Guna district also. More than 2200 quintals of rotten wheat was seized in Chhatarpur, Raisen and Narsinghpur districts in May. The “black paper” lists instances of large scale bungling in weighing and transport also.