National

BJP blames Digvijaya Singh for closing Sehore sugar factory

A. M. Jigeesh Sehore (Bhopal) | Updated on May 11, 2019 Published on May 11, 2019

Sehore sugar factory

Workers and people said unavailability of water in the area was the main reason for the closure as farmers stopped sugarcane farming.

The premises of Sehore's Bhopal Sugar Industry's factory wears a deserted look now. Other than a few security guards employed by the present owner, no one dares to enter into the factory, started in 1937 by the then Nawab of Bhopal.

The factory has suddenly become a hot subject for political discussion as the BJP, which governed Madhya Pradesh for three terms in a row, has decided to hold former Chief Minister and Congress' candidate from Bhopal constituency to Lok Sabha Digvijaya Singh as the person responsible for closing the factory down. The BJP workers and leaders have been accusing Singh of putting "thousands of factory workers" in distress by closing the factory when he was Chief Minister and shifting it to Raghogarh, his home constituency.

The workers and people associated with the factory, despite their political differences, counter this and say that unavailability of water in the area was the main reason for the closure as farmers stopped sugarcane farming because of this. "Neither Digvijaya Singh nor (former Chief Minister and BJP leader) Shivraj Singh Chauhan suffered by closing down the factory.

“We suffered. Our children suffered," said Pintu, who lost his job in 2001 when the factory closed down. "Singh was Chief Minister at that time. In 2003, BJP came to power. But no one considered our demand for reopening the factory," Pintu, a firm BJP supporter, said. Pintu is now doing farming in the factory land. He does not have any approval to do so. "Half of the land is with goons. I started farming in some land so that we at least get some wheat to make rotis. How do we live otherwise?" he asked.

Zahiruddin, who was a raw material supplier for the factory, also rubbishes the BJP theory. "The first layoff was in 1994. Farmers had faced problem in cultivation of sugarcane due to lack of water. There were 398 employees and most of them shifted from Sehore searching other jobs," he said.

The BJP, however, has made it a big election issue. "Singh could have saved the factory. There were good cooperatives in the area. He instead decided to shift it to his home town," said Praveen Napit, a BJP spokesman.

The Congress counters this. "First, the factory was not shifted. Raghogarh factory is a cooperative mill. Here, it was a private owned factory. Singh had no role in closing it down," said Nand Gopal Biyani, a local Congress leader.

Mukesh Mewada, who was a daily wage employee in the factory agreed. "I don't think it's fair to hold one person responsible for this. Why didn't the BJP open the factory when they were in power," asked Mewada.

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Published on May 11, 2019
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