China main issue for Cong, BJP for by-polls to 24 assembly seats in MP

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The stand-off at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China has become a political issue for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the opposition Congress ahead of the elections to the 24 assembly constituencies, which hold key to the party that would form the government in Madhya Pradesh.

The BJP has 107 legislators and Congress 92 in the assembly. The party with 116 legislators would have the majority in 230-member house.

The BJP has announced it will go from door- to – door to tell people how the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation received a donation from China and how the then Union commerce and industries minister Kamal Nath played a key role in building the relationship between China and the Congress party.

The allegations have prompted Congress to raise the issue of the visit by chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and other state and central BJP leaders to China in the past and Chouhan accepting hospitality of the Chinese Communist Party.

On Sunday, BJP leaders burnt effigies of state Congress president Kamal Nath in two places in Bhopal.

“Congress stands exposed after donations to Rajiv Gandhi Foundation. In the capacity of union commerce and industries minister Kamal Nath had reduced import duty from 40% to 200% on 250 items that benefitted China and hard hit those who were engaged in small trades in the country,” VD Sharma, the BJP’s state unit chief, said.

Sharma reiterated the charges the party’s national vice-president Prabhat Jha had levelled on Friday.

Bhupendra Gupta, the Congress’ state unit spokesperson, said the party will expose the “real face of the BJP” in context with its relations with China and it would “definitely be one of the main issues during the by-polls.”

“Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan visited China twice during his previous term as the CM. Once he accepted the hospitality of the Communist Party. The fact is the BJP has been trying to build a good relationship with China since 2009 when it sent a delegation and again in 2014 to understand the working of the Communist Party over there. These delegations had certain people with Sangh background too,” Gupta said.

Even otherwise, he said, “During the BJP regime import from China has gone up three folds. In this situation, the BJP must make it clear as to who is an agent of China- BJP or Congress?”

Political analyst Girija Shankar said the BJP and Congress are picking up “non-issues”.

“Though the BJP and Congress both are making massive preparations for the by-polls, neither of these two parties has raised any real issue concerning the people so far. Since both the parties are cut-off from the ground reality, they are raising non-issues like China with an eye on by-polls,” Shankar said.