MP CM sits on fast, calls it off after PM`s assurance

Calling off the fast by CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan has invited strong reaction within the party.

Bhopal: Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Sunday sat on fast in support of his demands for the BJP-ruled state but called it off minutes later following an assurance from the Prime Minister.

"On the assurance of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that all issues concerning Madhya Pradesh will be sorted out soon, and the advice of BJP central leadership, I am calling off
this fast launched in support of the farmers whose crops have been affected by frost and (on) several other issues," he told party workers at Dusshera Maidan here.

Among other things, Chouhan had demanded an additional financial package for the farmers in the state.

Explaining the reasons for calling off the fast, Chouhan said that during his meeting with Governor Rameshwar Thakur earlier in the day, he got a telephone call from the
Prime Minister, assuring him that all the issues raised by him will be sorted out soon.

Singh also told the Chief Minister that he has authorised Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia to hold discussions with the State. The first
meeting will be held on February 20 in New Delhi, Chouhan said.
"This meeting will be arranged within a week. Let me also take this opportunity to thank you for acceding to my request not to proceed on the fast," the Prime Minister said.

The Chief Minister said that he told the Prime Minister during the telephonic conversation that he had taken the decision of undertaking fast with "a heavy heart" as all his earlier pleas had not elicited any response.

Chouhan mentioned the demands such as provision of adequate coal for power generation in the state, allocation of funds under Indira Awas Yojna and supply of foodgrains for BPL

The Chief Minister also raised the issue of farmers, whose crops were hit by frost, not getting any assistance from the Centre and demanded relaxation of rules which prevented
the Centre from extending help to farmers.

He said he told the Prime Minister that till date no central team had visited the state for assessing damage to crops due to the frost.
Chouhan also demanded that for the purpose of relief under crop insurance scheme, individual farmers, instead of a particular region should be treated as a unit.

Chouhan wrote to the Prime Minister on February 10 intimating that he intended to undertake a fast to draw his attention to various issues relating to Madhya Pradesh.

BJP had made elaborate arrangements for the fast, installing facilities for the secretariat staff, and for holding cabinet meeting at the venue. Huge tents had been put up.

Senior BJP leaders including the party`s national general secretaries, Thavar Chand Gehlot and Narendra Singh Tomar, former Chief Ministers Sunderlal Patwa, Kailash Joshi and Babulal Gaur, former Union Minister Sumitra Mahajan and the State BJP President Prabhat Jha were present on the occasion.

`Chouhan`s U-turn dented party`s image`

The cancellation of the indefinite fast by Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan was "un-BJP-like" and had dented the party`s image, a senior BJP leader said.

"The party is not known to strike deals with an open adversary like the Congress," a BJP leader said citing several past instances, including the demand for a joint parliamentary committee probe into the 2G spectrum row and the recent Tiranga Yatra to Jammu and Kashmir.

"If the Chief Minister had to accept the assurance from the prime minister, then these arrangements (for the fast) should not be made as the prime minister has been saying it for long", he said.

None of the BJP leaders who commented on the issue wished to be named.


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