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EC to probe Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s ‘chopper’ row with Madhya Pradesh IAS officer

At a recent rally, Shivraj Singh Chouhan had 'threatened' a collector after the IAS officer refused permission to let his helicopter land.

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Bhopal: The Election Commission has launched an inquiry into a Madhya Pradesh collector’s refusal to let former chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s helicopter land for a campaign rally in Chhindwara this week, and the latter’s ensuing “threat” to the IAS officer, the state Chief Electoral Officer’s office said Friday.

“The Election Commission has ordered an inquiry into the complaint about the Chhindwara district collector’s refusal to permit the landing of a helicopter of a political party leader,” Arun Kumar Tomar, the additional chief electoral officer for Madhya Pradesh, told The Print.

“The inquiry will also look into reports about the alleged remarks made by a political party leader against an official at a public meeting,” the officer added.

Another polling official told ThePrint that the inquiry will be conducted in a day by Manoj Shrivastava, an officer of additional chief secretary rank.

The row in question occurred Wednesday, as Chouhan sought to land his helicopter at Umreth after 5 pm for a rally. Shrinivas Sharma, the collector of Chhindwara, where the area falls, refused permission, citing guidelines that bar helicopter landings after 5 pm.

Chouhan, who ruled the state for 13 years from 2005 to 2018, was subsequently driven to the rally venue, where he appeared to threaten the collector: “In West Bengal, Mamata didi, she was not letting us land, after her, Kamal Nath dada has come… Dear pitthu collector, listen carefully, our days will be back soon. What will you do then?” he said.

Speaking to mediapersons later, the collector had said his “decision was taken as per aviation guidelines”.

“Under the guidelines, helicopters can land between 10 am and 5 pm. Chouhan’s pilot sought permission at 5.02 pm,” he added.

One of the state’s 29 Lok Sabha seats, Chhindwara, which votes 29 April, is a bastion of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, who has won the seat nine times. His son Nakul is the Congress’ candidate this election.

Viral comments

Sometime after Chouhan made the comments Wednesday, a video of his diatribe went viral.

His comments evoked angry reactions on social media, with users tagging the IAS Association to condemn its silence.

Meanwhile, Chouhan led a BJP delegation to the Election Commission to lodge a complaint against Sharma for “trying to stop him” from campaigning in Chhindwara.

“It is unfortunate that the collector is not allowing star campaigners of the BJP to campaign,” he told mediapersons here.

“We will stop campaigning by helicopter, and will go by road. If stopped on the road, we will move on foot,” he added.

Members of the Madhya Pradesh IAS Officers Association, meanwhile, lodged their own complaint with the Election Commission, alleging a threat to the Chhindwara collector.

“It is unfortunate that an ex-chief minister has undermined the institution of collector through his remarks at a public meeting,” the association wrote in its letter.

“Such remarks will demoralise the election machinery, which is engaged in conducting free and fair polls. It is requested that EC take note of the incident and issue suitable advisory to maintain morale,” it added.

The Congress, too, knocked the doors of the Election Commission, demanding a campaign bar on Chouhan for threatening the collector.

Also readThis man from Madhya Pradesh wants to defeat both Kamal Nath & his son on the same day


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