Declare Madhya Pradesh floods as `national calamity', Digvijaya writes to Shah

By PTI

BHOPAL: Madhya Pradesh BJP spokesman Pankaj Chaturvedi on Wednesday sent a legal notice to senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh over his controversial comments against RSS-run Saraswati Shishu Mandir schools.

He asked the Rajya Sabha MP to withdraw his comments and tender an apology to students and teachers of the school or face legal action.

“Singh should take back his controversial statement regarding Shishu Mandir and seek apology from students and teachers of the school spread across India within seven days failing which I will take legal action against him in a competent court,” Chaturvedi said.

Chaturvedi sent the legal notice to Singh through his lawyer Pramod Saxena.

Singh blamed RSS-run Saraswati Shishu Mandir, a private network of schools, for alleged communal bitterness in the country, saying these institutions “are sowing seeds of hatred in young minds”.

The former CM made the remarks in Bhopal on Saturday.

BJP leaders had slammed Singh for his remarks.

Singh on Wednesday advised politicians to develop a thick skin if they want to survive in the world of politics where they are often subjected to criticism.

In an indirect reference to the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh, he said it uses its policy of giving advertisements as a weapon to arm-twist the media.

“Unless you are thick-skinned, you won’t be able to do politics,” the former CM said.

Singh made the comments while recalling a terse reply (about thick skin) given by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to bureaucrat-turned-politician Natwar Singh (ex-Union minister), when the latter went to her after retirement wearing khadi cloths to tell her that he had now become a politician.

The Rajya Sabha MP was addressing a function of the newly-formed Central India Press Club, a body of journalists of Bhopal.

BJP leaders, including state agriculture minister Kamal Patel, were present at the event.

After narrating this incident related to Indira Gandhi, Singh turned to Patel, and said, “Tell your colleagues (in BJP) that if they are in politics, they should have a thick skin. Have the capacity to bear criticism.”

Singh said there is a trend of spreading hatred among the people in the country and this is not good for journalism or journalists.

Referring to the state government’s advisement policy, he said, “It is being used as a weapon. If you publish (their news) then you will get an advertisement otherwise not. This is not a right policy.”

Singh said things were different when he was the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh (1993 to 2003).

“If one does not have the right in journalism to say the truth, if there is no power in the pen. There is no use of it. In my 10-year-long tenure (as CM), so many critical things were printed against me, but I have never stopped advertisements of any publication,” he said.

“If politicians have no capacity to hear criticism, they should not enter politics it,” the Congress leader said.

Backing the demand for setting up a National Press Commission for improving job conditions of journalists, the Rajya Sabha MP said contractual appointments under hire and fire policy has created a big gap in salaries of those at top and bottom rungs.

He said scribes are facing a tough time due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Citing a report of the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), a reputed think-tank, Singh said in the last five years, 78 per cent of workforce in the media sector has been rendered jobless.

“In September 2016, nearly 10.25 lakh people were employed in the media sector, while in August 2021, this number was just 2.25 lakh,” he said.