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BJP, Cong vying to make Petlawad blast a poll plank for Ratlam-Jhabua by-polls

BHOPAL: The Congress and the BJP are planning to make the issue of politically backed traders in the Petlawad twin blast incident a poll plank for the ensuing Lok Sabha by-election in Ratlam-Jhabua constituency.

The seat has fallen vacant with the death of sitting MP and BJP’s senior tribal leader Dilip Singh Bhuria in June last. Dilip Singh wrested the seat from his arch rival Kantilal Bhuria of the Congress in 2014, with a margin of over 1 lakh votes.

While the Congress has decided to put its cards on Kantilal, who still has a say in the constituency, the BJP is trying to persuade Nirmala Bhuria, daughter of Dilip Singh, who is grappling with the delicate situation after Petlawad blast, a major setback to BJP’s image in the region.

State BJP has convened a secret survey of the constituency to find out people’s mood after Petlawad twin blast, in which more than 100 people lost their lives and 100 others suffered injuries. “'Preliminary feedback is favourable for us, courtesy chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan who took a massive tour of the affected region and got in touch with blast affected 80 families in 17 villages,” said state BJP president Nandkumar Singh Chauhan.

Chauhan boasted of relief measures taken on a war-footing, immediately after the blasts and claimed after legends like Mahatma Gandhi and Ram Manohar Lohia, it was chief minister Shivraj Singh who dared to visit blast-affected villages instantly to console the bereaved families.

He claimed a large number of villagers have justified state government’s stand to book main accused Rajendra Kaswa and others involved in the incident. Besides, a series of raids conducted to check illegal storage and transportation of explosives have reaped good results, said other BJP leaders.

To all anti-campaigns, Chauhan has straight allegations, “Congress is trying to reap political mileage from the tragedy.”

Contrary to the BJP’s claims, the Congress has laid a scathing attack on senior party leaders for having relations with the family of the accused. Congress is also trying to link the incident with Vyapam scam, if recent tweet by party’s senior leader and AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh is any indication. Digvijay had tweeted, “Pictures released by the Congress showing Kaswa in RSS uniform and on BJP stage. Was he also working for Sudhir Sharma of Vyapam Scam?”

Congress state spokesperson KK Mishra justified the comment saying Rajendra and Narendra Kaswa, who illegally stored explosives in their shop and were responsible for killing several innocents, have close relations with Chunnu Sharma, brother of Sudhir Sharma, kingpin accused in the Vyapam scam. “It is a known fact that Kaswa supplied explosives to Sharma brothers in Jhabua for mining purpose. Sharma brothers own 12 mines of manganese and iron ore in the district,” alleged Mishra.

Leader of the opposition in MP Assembly Satyadev Katare alleged that the government was hiding exact figures of toll in the twin blasts. “To my information, at least 130 persons have died in the explosions while several others have injured. But the government is yet to declare an updated figure,” alleged Katare.

He said it was unfortunate that police registered case against Congress state president and two others in the blame game of Petlawad blasts but did not accept Congress complaint against BJP state head.

Congress leader from Jhabua, Kantilal Bhuria meanwhile has staged a protest in the town demanding action against BJP state president Nandkumar Chauhan for making false allegations against Congress leaders and hiding the facts about Kaswa’s relationship with the BJP.