A minister in the Madhya Pradesh BJP government has stirred a controversy by claiming that state Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan was an incarnation of tribal revolutionary Tantya Bhil.
The opposition Congress, however, dubbed it as an insult to the tribal community and sought an apology from the minister.
The MP government has been observing week-long programs to pay tribute to Tantya Bhil, also known as Tantya Mama, as part of its tribal outreach programme ahead of the revolutionary’s death anniversary on December 4.
“Tantya Mama used to facilitate marriages of girls, our mama (as CM Chouhan is known popularly) also does the same. Tantya Mama used to loot the rich and distribute the wealth among the poor. Our CM does not loot, but collects taxes from the rich and spends it for the poor,” Madhya Pradesh Agriculture Minister Kamal Patel said addressing a gathering at Bhikangaon in Khargone district on Monday. “There is a similarity between the two of them. In a way, we can say Tantya Mama took rebirth as our CM Shivraj,” he added.
The minister also drew a parallel between the physical appearance of Chouhan and Tantya Bhil.
Patel was addressing the gathering during the ‘Krantisurya Gaurav Yatra’, under which urns of soil from Tantya Bhil’s birthplace Baroda Ahir village in Khandwa are being taken to Patalpani in Indore district, where a mega program is scheduled on December 4 to pay tribute to this tribal revolutionary. Meanwhile, the state Congress said the comparison was an insult to the tribal icon. “Agriculture Minister Kamal Patel termed Tantya Bhil a robber, while CM Shivraj levies taxes on the rich. Is this a similarity? This is a wrong comparison. This is an insult to the tribal hero and the community. The minister and the BJP should apologize,” state Congress spokesman Narendra Saluja said. On November 23, Chouhan had announced to name Patalpani railway station in Indore after Tantya Bhil.
He had also announced that Indore’s Bhanwar Kuan intersection and MR 10 bus stand, being developed at the cost of ₹53 crores, will also be named after Bhil.