Seeking to put the BJP government on the mat for the firing on protesters in Madhya Pradesh that killed five people, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi has this morning left for Mandsaur about 325 km from capital of Bhopal to meet the families of the farmers who, the Congress says, were murdered in cold blood for demanding a loan waiver and better price for their crops.
Hours after Mr Gandhi announced his plan on Twitter to travel to the state that has continuously voted the BJP since 2003, the Congress launched its sharpest attack on the BJP for letting down farmers.
"The BJP has almost been acting like a curse of death for Indian farmers, literally - not figuratively. Distressed farmers are viewed by heartless BJP virtually as fodder for opening fire upon," Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi declared, according to news agency Press Trust of India.
During his Mandsaur visit, Mr Gandhi who is set to take over as Congress president by October this year, is expected to keep up the pressure. Just as he did in Uttar Pradesh last month after the riots in Saharanpur, using the occasion to aim at the Yogi Adityanath government in Lucknow government and the Modi government at the Centre. Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said as a responsible leader, the Congress vice president shouldn't go to Mandsaur till the situation stabilises, adding that Congress leader was only doing it because "he is publicity hungry".
Farmer protests erupted in western Madhya Pradesh six days back demanding a loan waiver and better prices for their crops. More than 1,600 farmers killed themselves in the state in 2016, according to official figures. Between 2011 and 2015, according to the National Crime Records Bureau, a total of 6076 farmers had committed suicide in the state.
On Tuesday, five farmers were killed as the agitation turned violent in Mandsaur district. Home Minister Bhupendra Singh on Tuesday told NDTV that the police did not shoot at the crowd, suggesting it was someone else. District Magistrate SK Singh who was heckled by the farmers on Wednesday, however, later said the local police officer who opened fire did so without the orders.
As the authorities struggle to assuage public anger, Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan who has been in office since 2005 raised the financial assistance to the families of the dead from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 1 crore each, and reiterated his appeals for peace. Police reinforcements were also sent in while the Union Home Ministry also dispatched about 1,100 paramilitary forces.
But the Congress isn't just going to focus on the BJP in Madhya Pradesh. Mr Abhishek Singhvi had turned to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying "the 'NAMO Policy' (short for Narendra Modi's policy) apparently stands for 'NAMO' - 'No Agriculture Mal-Governance Only'."
"Why has the Prime Minister, yet 24 hours or 36 hours after the tragedy - not said a word about the terrible tragedy in Mandsaur?" he said, according to PTI.