New Delhi, June 7: Even as the BJP and the Congress indulged in a war of words over the killing of eight farmers in police firing in Madhya Pradesh, the Congress said its Vice-President Rahul Gandhi will visit Mandsaur on Thursday to meet the bereaved families.
"Will be in Mandsaur tomorrow (Thursday) to meet the families of farmers who lost their lives in the police firing yesterday (Tuesday)," Gandhi said on his official Twitter handle.
Fresh violence erupted in Madhya Pradesh on Wednesday as protesting farmers indulged in arson, a day after the police gunned down eight peasants demanding relief from debts and higher crop prices.
On Wednesday, Information and Broadcasting Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu accusing the Congress of instigating violence in the name of farmers' agitation. Terming the violence "very unfortunate", Naidu said the government was monitoring the situation.
The Minister accused the Congress of trying to gain political mileage out of the incident. "The Congress is trying to give it a political twist. I only want to tell them (Congress) not to politicise the issue and fuel and instigate violence in the name of farmers' agitation, because it will boomerang on you," Naidu said.
On the other hand, describing the killings as tragic and cold blooded murder, the Congress questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi's silence on the issue.
Speaking to the media here, Congress spokesperson and Rajya Sabha member Abhishek Manu Singhvi trashed as "shameless" the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) allegation that the Congress instigated the Mandsaur violence.
Singhvi said while farmers were demanding fair price for their produce, the BJP government shot them dead.
"They were seeking loan waivers and right price, but he BJP (government) killed them with bullets. This is the sad reality of Mandsaur," Singhvi added.
Farmers in Madhya Pradesh are on strike from June 1 to June 10 to demand waiver of their loans and that their produce be bought at a fair price.
"The BJP has almost been acting like the curse of death for Indian farmers -- literally, not figuratively. Distressed farmers are looked upon by the heartless BJP virtually as objects for authorities to fire upon," said the Congress spokesperson.
"What was insulting and sad was the complete denial by the Madhya Pradesh government, which intially said there was no firing," he added.
The Congress leader questioned Modi's silence, ban on Internet and denial of permission to Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi to meet the farmers in Mandsaur.
"Prime Minister Modi speaks of development (utthan), but has instead only tweeted about 'Uttana-Mandukasana' (yoga posture) in last 24 hours," Singhvi said.
The Congress leader said those who wanted to go and express solidarity with the farmers, including Rahul Gandhi, were denied permission and instead rumours and canards were spread that he wanted to go there to participate in the protest.
"Instead of giving a healing touch to the farmers, the government is preventing communication by banning the Internet," Singhvi said.
Hundreds of angry farmers on Wednesday blocked roads and attacked two top officials at Mandsaur as their leaders claimed that eight people had died in the police firing a day earlier.