A new controversy has erupted in Madhya Pradesh over a video of former Chief Minister Kamal Nath that the BJP has said shows him inciting Congress workers to conduct arson to ensure farmers "get justice". The party has also attacked Mr Nath for criticising the government's handling of the coronavirus crisis in a manner that it says shows India in poor light.
In a 20-second video released by the state's BJP unit, Mr Nath can be seen addressing a virtual meeting and is heard telling the Congress workers that it was the right opportunity to "set fire" ("aag laga do") so that the farmers would get justice.
Home Minister Narottam Mishra has condemned Mr Nath over the video, saying, "I demand from the MP Governor to allow lodging of a case against Nath under Section 188 of IPC for spreading fear in the society through such statements. He should also be booked for sedition for maligning India's image through the Indian Corona remarks."
Reacting to the controversy and the home minister's remarks, Mr Nath said in Ujjain on Saturday, "Why are they (BJP leaders) tweeting that small video clip? Why aren't they showing what I said before and after it? Let them do what they want, including lodging a case."
Addressing a digital conference on Friday, the Congress leader had also said last year the world was saying that the COVID-19 pandemic was caused by the Chinese virus "but now our country has become infamous due to Indian Corona or Indian Variant. Presidents and Prime Ministers of many nations are talking about Indian Variant," Mr Nath had said.
"Earlier, 'Mera Bharat Mahan' was India's worldwide identity, but now 'Mera Bharat Covid' is the country's new identity. The present government's approach of suppressing and hiding the Covid-related facts and figures will not address the problem but worsen it. The present government isn't fighting Corona but is actually fighting Aalochana (criticism). The Modi government isn't doing Covid management, instead, it's busy in Image Management," alleged Mr Nath.
Alleging suppression and hiding of actual COVID-19 figures and facts, the former Chief Minister said Madhya Pradesh was a perfect example of it
"Around 1.27 lakh bodies have reached the cremation grounds and graveyards in the state during March and April and my guess is that 80 per cent of those deaths happened due to Covid. I demand that the Madhya Pradesh government make public the figures of how many bodies reached cremation grounds and graveyards across the state in March-April 2021," he said.
"Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has announced Rs 1 Lakh compensation for all those families who lost their members to Covid. I demand that Rs 5 lakh sum be paid to every family, which submits an affidavit about their family members dying due to Covid," Mr Nath said.
The BJP slammed Kamal Nath for his remark. Senior BJP leader and union minister Prakash Javadekar told said Mr Nath used the term "Indian corona" during an interaction and noted that even the World Health Organisation (WHO) has clarified that any variant is not named after any country.
"He did not stop there and said 'Humari pehchan Mera Bharat Covid'... This is an insult to India. Many Congress leaders are making such statements. Many leaders said this is an Indian variant," Mr Javadekar said.