A Divided Congress in Madhya Pradesh Unites to Back MLA Booked in Suicide Case

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The factionalism in the Madhya Pradesh unit of the Congress is an open secret, observers say, but the registration of a first information report (FIR) by police against a key legislator of the party and former minister in the Kamal Nath government has prompted senior leaders to step onto a common platform and throw their weight behind him.

Gandhwani MLA Umang Singhar was booked by police this week in connection with the alleged suicide of a friend, Sonia Bharadwaj, who was found hanging inside the lawmaker’s residence in Shahpura area of Bhopal.

The woman’s family including her son have come out in Singhar’s support and have even urged the administration to withdraw the FIR lodged against him.

Former chief minister Digvijaya Singh and several senior leaders met Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee chief Kamal Nath at his residence in Bhopal on Thursday and discussed strategy to oppose the “politically motivated” FIR on Singhar, nephew of late deputy CM Jamuna Devi.

Statements from the deceased’s family have vindicated that Singhar has been booked by the police without concrete evidences, said Nath. “I urge CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan not to see the matter with a political angle,” he added.

Several former ministers and MLAs from the Congress were present in the meet.

Five legislators including working president of the party state unit Jitu Patwari had called on the director general of police (DGP) and termed the action against Singhar politically motivated.

Bharadwaj, who was from Haryana, came in touch with the MLA through a matrimonial portal. She allegedly hanged herself at Singhar’s bungalow on May 16 and the police filed a case against him for abetment of suicide the next day.

Calling the evidences inconclusive, the MLA too has written to the DGP, seeking a magisterial probe into the death.

Singhar is a prominent tribal face of the Congress and the party is trying to avoid giving out the impression that he has been left alone at a time of crisis.

The police are yet to arrest Singhar who is reportedly preparing to file an anticipatory bail plea in court.

Sources said that Nath spoke to CM Chouhan on Thursday and sought an appointment for a meeting on Friday. The MPCC chief is expected to speak to Chouhan on Singhar’s situation and will urge him not to act against Congress leaders out of “political vendetta”, they said.

The BJP had levelled similar charges against the Kamal Nath government when it acted against many of its leaders.

After losing power because of defections and tasting defeat in bypolls last year, discontent has been bubbling in the Madhya Pradesh Congress unit. The Singhar issue has given Kamal Nath a chance to unite the party once again, observers say.

The FIR has been filed by the police on the basis of facts and evidences, said BJP state secretary Rajneesh Agrawal who asked the MPCC chief to clarify whether all such cases should be quashed or should Singhar get special treatment for being a former minister.

(With inputs from Anurag Shrivastava)

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