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Hemant Soren third CM booed at Modi event, Congress terms it orchestrated

New Delhi: After Congress' Prithviraj Chavan and Bhupinder Singh Hooda, it was the turn of Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren to be booed by BJP supporters Thursday while sharing the dais with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, prompting the Congress to accuse the ruling party of orchestrating the jeering.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Chavan, who was heckled last week while sharing the dais with Modi at a function in Solapur, boycotted the prime minister's programme in Nagpur where the latter was to perform 'bhumi-pujan' of a Metro project. Haryana Chief Minister Hooda was booed by Bharatiya Janata Party workers in the presence of Modi at a stone-laying ceremony at Kaithal Tuesday, after which the chief minister declared that he would not attend any function with Modi.

On Thursday, it was the turn of Hemant Soren, whose government is supported by the Congress. When BJP participants at the rally in Ranchi began to drown out his speech with pro-Modi slogans, Soren told the crowd to "respect the significance of the stage". "The prime minister should take note of it," Soren said. Modi inaugurated and laid foundation stones of a series of development projects in Jharkhand.

Soren said heckling of opponents at official functions in the presence of the prime minister amounted to "rape" of centre-state relations. Congress general secretary Shakeel Ahmed said heckling of opposition chief ministers started in Jammu and Kashmir where Omar Abdullah faced such a situation in the presence of Modi. "It was repeated in Solapur in Maharashtra. Then Bhupinder Singh Hooda had to face (booing). Today, it was Hemant Soren," Ahmed told IANS. "Any self-respecting chief minister will avoid attending public functions (with Modi)", except extending protocol, he said.

"It (the hecking) was well-planned and orchestrated by Modi and his party. The prime minister talked of working as a team. Being captain of the team, he is trying to back-stab. The prime minster, whose main responsibility is to strengthen the spirit of the constitution, is himself trying to weaken it. This is very unfortunate," Ahmed told IANS. Incidentally, the cases of heckling have been reported from all the four states going to assembly polls later this year.

Congress leader Manish Tewari said it was a case of gross impropriety "if government functions are used for orchestrated politics". "No chief minister, in his right mind, would have possibly gone this route if evidence of orchestration was not in front of us," Tewari told CNN-IBN news channel. He said it does not require rocket science to know that crowds were planted and people motivated to create disruptions.

"These are tactics which are employed but to be employed by the prime minister, I think, is a little low. Therefore, a self-respecting person backs off and says 'I give you the time'," he said. BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said the chief ministers faced sloganeering as they were "non-performing". "They did not perform in their states. That's why their own public which elevated them as chief minister, today is really annoyed with them. That's why they are showing the door to the chief ministers," Patra said.

Referring to an incident during a function in Kaithal Tuesday in which Hooda was jeered at, Patra said it would be absurd to say that a sizeable section of the state's population had become BJP workers. Upset at the jeering, Hooda said he will not attend any function of the prime minister or union ministers if the Haryana BJP leadership did not change its attitude. In the presence of Modi, Hooda was continuously booed throughout his brief speech at a public function.

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