A war of words erupted today over the stampede in Madhya Pradesh, with Congress demanding Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan's resignation and BJP hitting back by accusing it of playing politics over dead bodies.
Congress alleged that the tragedy at Ratangarh temple in Datia yesterday was "man-made" and a result of "misgovernance" as adequate precautionary measures had not been taken.
"A stampede had happened over five years ago at a similar place which left many people injured. The MP government learnt no lessons from it. Its misgovernance and rampant corruption lies at the roots of the tragedy. It should take moral responsibility and the CM should resign," AICC Communication Department head Ajay Maken told reporters.
He claimed that cops present to maintain order in the place were collecting bribe of Rs 200 from every tractor driver to drive into a no-entry-zone for vehicles. Tractors were used to ferry thousands of pilgrims.
"It cramped the entire area and it became a reason for the disaster... The MP government and the CM could not escape responsibility for such a big man-made tragedy," he said.
Party general secretary and former state Chief Minister Digvijay Singh levelled similar allegations. Union Minister Kamal Nath, another senior leader from the state, also demanded the Chouhan's resignation.
"They (government) have failed. I hold them squarely responsible certainly for this incident," Nath said.
Chouhan termed the politics over the tragedy "unwanted" and said, "The focus should be on attending to the injured and taking steps to avoid any such incidents in the future".
Terming the Ratangarh stampede as unfortunate, BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar said Congress is playing "politics over dead bodies" and demanded that government must plan out full-proof mechanisms for avoiding such incidents in future.
Condoling the death of more than a 100 people, Javadekar said it is a "big tragedy" and called for steps to prevent occurence of such tragedies in future.
The party hit out at the Congress for demanding Chouhan's resignation over the issue, saying it is doing so as Assembly elections are round the corner.
"Congress leaders from Kamal Nath to Jyotiraditya Scindia, Digvijaya Singh, Ajay Maken and Satyavrat Chaturvedi are doing politics over dead bodies. We condemn this attitude of the Congress... What needs to be discussed at the moment are the measures that should be taken to deal with it," the BJP spokesman said.
"Ratangarh is not an isolated incidence. Every year such tragedies are happening at pilgrimages of all religions. The Centre and the states should plan out yatras taken out by followers of different religions," Javadekar said.
Denouncing Congress politics on Ratangarh tragedy, he said when such an incident takes place all parties should discuss ways to avoid them in future. "Due to the polls, Congress approach to the tragedy is political," he said.
The party demanded that the Centre should treat frequent occurrence of such incidents as a national calamity and must plan for a "fool-proof mechanism" to avoid recurrence of such incidents.
Sharing figures of such stampedes in the past, BJP said 106 lives were lost in Sabarimala tragedy in Kerala, 350 pilgrims died at Mandhara Devi in Maharashtra, 63 peoples lost their lives in Kunda in UP, 40 people died in a similar stampede in Kumbh Mela at Nasik.
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