A Congress leader’s use of an insulting phrase–‘Bhookhe-Nange ghar ka’ meaning from a very impoverished family– to describe Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s alleged rags to riches story was turned into a political campaign by the Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday, with the launch of a #MaibhiShivraj campaign on microblogging website Twitter. The campaign triggered a political debate in the run-up to the state legislative assembly bypolls to be held in 28 assembly constituencies on November 3 and illicited an expression of regret from the Congress leader who had made the remark.
The insult was hurled at Chouhan by state Congress’ farmers’ cell president Dinesh Gurjar, while addressing an election meeting in Ashok Nagar area on Sunday.
“Respected Kamal Nath is the second biggest industrialist of the country. He is not from a ‘Nange-bhookhe parivar’ like Shivraj Singh Chouhan. The latter used to have 5 acres of land. Now he has thousands of acres of land.”
As the video clip went viral on social media, Chouhan responded with a tweet on Tuesday, “Now, Congressmen call me bhookha-nanga. They may stay blessed with their affluence. I am happy to serve people of Madhya Pradesh with seriousness and commitment.”
Earlier, talking to journalists, Chouhan said, “Kamal Nath ji, I am bhookha-nanga. That’s why I started giving loan on zero percent interest rate to farmers, made a provision of an addition of Rs 4000 to PM Kisan Samman Nidhi, laptops to students and reintroduced Kanyadan scheme.”
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“We follow the ideology of our patriarch Pt Deendayal Upadhyay who had said that the service of the poor was the worship of God and that the poor had the first right over natural resources. Kamal Nath ji, you can call me a bhookha-nanga, but I will continue to work for uplifting the poor and for their rights,” Shivraj continued.
The campaign on Twitter drew a good response with views expressed for and against Chouhan.
Gurjar, however, soon expressed regret at the use of the insulting phrase but at the same time alleged that the phrase was quoted out of the context as part of a conspiracy.
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“A selective part of my speech was made viral on social media as a part of conspiracy against me and my party. What I meant to say that Chouhan called himself a farmer but the fact remains that he amassed wealth after becoming the chief minister, whereas Kamal Nath ji really served the poor by giving them electricity for Rs 100 per month, waiving loans of farmers, Rs 51,000 grant for marriage of girls from poor families etc when he was the chief minister. However, if any particular phrase in my speech hurt the CM I regret the same.”
State Congress spokesperson Durgesh Sharma said, “What Dinesh Gurjar said is being misinterpreted by BJP leaders for their political gains in the bypolls. The entire state has seen a tremendous rise in wealth of the CM in all these years. This found reflection in our farmers’ cell president’s speech.”
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