Posters hailing Akash Vijayvargiya put up in Indore; BJP leadership mum, civic officials demand security

Indore/New Delhi: While the central command of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has kept mum over its Madhya Pradesh legislator who thrashed a government official, the second-rung leadership is explicitly hailing him. Some are even following in his footsteps.

MLA from Indore-3 Assembly constituency Akash Vijayvargiya, son of BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, was arrested on Wednesday for assaulting a civic official with a cricket bat.

On Friday, BJP leader and Nagar Panchayat president of Ram Nagar town in Satna district, Ram Sushil Patel attacked chief municipality officer Devratnam Soni with a baseball bat. Soni’s head was busted open and he was rushed to the civil hospital. The scuffle broke out at a meeting to discuss civic issues. Patel claims he too was injured and needed medical attention.

 Posters hailing Akash Vijayvargiya put up in Indore; BJP leadership mum, civic officials demand security

In this video still BJP MLA Akash Vijayvargiya is seen assaulting a civic official with a cricket bat in Indore. PTI

Satna superintendent of police P Riyaz Iqbal said both the parties have approached the police and medical tests are under way. He said police is reviewing the CCTV footage, adding that a case has not yet been registered.

Soni claimed he was probing corruption in the Nagar Panchayat and did not desist despite repeated threats from Patel. He said his investigation is why he was assaulted. He added that he had requested Ram Nagar station house officer Satish Mishra multiple times to provide security citing these threats, but was always ignored.

Patel isn't the only one brandishing a bat these days. Since Wednesday’s incident, Vivek Agarwal — a supporter of Akash and the vice-president of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (the BJP's student wing) in Damoh district — has been carrying a bat with him whenever he visits Damoh Municipal Corporation to meet any officer.

“People have seen only Akash’s batting, but no one bothered to look into the reason behind his act. If I were to follow the MLA’s example for the benefit of the poor and the needy, I would not hesitate from using this bat,” Agarwal said.

'Poster child'

In Akash's home turf of Indore, posters saluting him cropped up in multiple localities on Thursday night. Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC), whose officer the MLA beat up, swung into action and removed the posters by Friday morning.

Indore resident Shalini Kamdar said what the MLA did is not a matter of pride and that elected representatives should behave responsibly. However, for the residents of Ganji Compound, where the IMC was conducting its demolition drive, the MLA is someone who stood up for them.

There is much support for Akash on social media as well. On Facebook, the video of him thrashing the IMC officer has garnered praiseworthy comments aplenty such as "best batting performance," "timely and essential knock," "a captain’s innings".

A Facebook user who goes by name Manish Chouhan posted a video in which he compared the MLA to Lord Krishna, who resorted to violence to save the innocent from evil forces.

“If some one hold my hand and abuse me my brother will do exactly same like mla akash... Nothing wrong... Support him,” tweeted Shivani Sharma.

BJP’s stand

According to BJP sources in New Delhi, the party’s central leadership is unhappy. Union Home Minister and BJP national president Amit Shah is expected to censure the MLA after examining the incident.

Central leadership is also learnt to be disappointed with Vijayvargiya senior’s handling of the incident. He is in-charge of the party’s affair in the crucial state of West Bengal. Given his stature, his reaction might cause the party trouble, sources said.

Multiple calls to BJP leaders went answered. Former chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan did not respond to a request for comment. Deepak Vijayvargiya, chief spokesperson of Madhya Pradesh BJP, too refused to address the issue. Madhya Pradesh BJP chief Rakesh Singh has not yet stated the party’s stand. He was expected to reach Indore on Thursday to meet local leaders regarding the incident, but flew to Delhi instead to discuss this with the central leadership.

At the same time, the party's Indore unit staged a protest on Friday afternoon to decry Akash's arrest. No senior or known faces of the party took part in the sit-down protest, which saw participation from second-rung leaders only.

Meanwhile, the IMC staff too hit the road to condemn Akash. Demanding security, they boycotted work and continued their protest on Friday. Umakant Kale, president of Indore Nagar Nigam Karmchari Sangh,  asked who will save them if the elected representatives beat up officials. He said their union has submitted a memorandum to demand strict action against aggressors.

On the other hand, Indore municipal commissioner Ashish Singh sacked 21 employees on Thursday for supporting Akash. Congress leader and state higher education minister Jitu Patwari condemned the episode. Commenting on the posters saluting Akash, he asked if this is how the BJP wants to propagate its "Nathuram Godse ideology." He said the party should give sanskaar to its cadre and take strict action against the guilty.

Vyapam scam whistleblower and Indore resident Dr Anand Rai noted that Indore mayor Malini Goud had not even addressed the issue, much less condemned it. He contended that it shows the BJP is siding with Akash.

Social activist Medha Patkar lamented that local BJP leaders are defending a broad daylight attack on on duty government officials. Patkar said, "What else can one expect from BJP?"

Updated Date: Jun 28, 2019 20:03:18 IST