NAGPUR: Whether it was a slip of tongue or his conviction, Nagpur district guardian minister Shivajirao Moghe, a Congress leader, made his party colleagues wince when he praised theRashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) for its activities. Congress has regularly blamed RSS for spreading communal discord. Of late, party general secretary Digvijay Singh has been charging RSS with Hindu terrorism. In this backdrop, Moghe’s statement is quite puzzling.

The Congress minister made these remarks at the unveiling function of state of Nagpur’s founder Raje Bakht Buland Shah at Vidhan Bhavan Square. It was an all party function with leaders of BJP, Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena sharing the dais. Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, his Jharkhand counterpart Arjun Munda and BJP national chief Nitin Gadkari, Congress ministers Nitin Raut and Rajendra Mulak, and NCP minister Anil Deshmukh were the prominent dignitaries. While Congress and BJP tried to take credit for erection of the Gond king’s statue, except for former mayor Maya Iwnate, they refrained from criticizing each other.

Moghe, while stressing on the importance of the city, said that several movements beneficial to the country had started from the city. These included RSS founded by Dr K B Hedgewar and Dr B R Ambedkar adopting Buddhist religion. “Even though RSS conducts its activities all over the country, its headquarters is in Nagpur,” he said.

Congress’ embarrassment did not end here. Moghe flayed the last two chief ministers – both from Congress — for stopping the grant to Nagpur. “I thank Nitin Gadkari for sanctioning an annual grant of Rs 20 crore for Nagpur, when he was the guardian minister. When our government came to power, it increased the grant to Rs 25 crore. Unfortunately, the last two chief ministers have stopped the grant,” he said.

The grant was stopped by Vilasrao Deshmukh in his second term. His successor Ashok Chavancontinued Deshmukh’s policy. Moghe did not criticize the incumbent CM Prithviraj Chavan, who was present in the function.

CM Chavan, when asked to comment on Moghe’s statement later, said that he had increased Nagpur district’s allocation in district planning council (DPC) funds from Rs 120 crore to Rs 170 crore. “Nagpur needs a lot more than Rs 25 crore. We will give it,” was all he said.

All the dignitaries praised Bakht Buland Shah but BJP leaders did not give much credit to Congress leaders, even though the statue was their baby. Ex-mayor Maya Iwnate blamed Congress government in NMC for ignoring the project. “The state government had sanctioned the funds in 2002 but the project did not move forward till 2007 when I became the mayor. I wanted to lay the foundation stone of the project befor completing by term (2009 end) but state government departments made us run from pillar to post,” Iwnate said, and then went to describe the contribution of all local BJP leaders to the project in detail without giving any credit to Congress leaders.

Gadkari did not praise any Congress leader except leader of opposition Vikas Thakre. However, Moghe gave credit to all local leaders including BJP MLA Devendra Fadnavis. He said that the project was finally cleared by the state cabinet in December 2010. CM Chavan, commenting on allegations of state government apathy, said that the project was delayed as a suitable spot was not available.


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