An embarrassing advertisement in some newspapers making snide remarks and paying some left-handed compliments to Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath soured his 73rd birthday on Monday.
Select newspapers carried the full page ad that needled Kamal Nath more than greeting him on the important day.
Madhya Pradesh has for long witnessed a "Badhaai" (congratulation) culture where posters and hoardings cover the skyline in most towns. All and sundry seek their share under the sun by greeting the entire hierarchy of political leadership on birthdays, arrivals in town or just anything worth a mention.
A political observer once said the hoardings were often meant to inform you about the possible touts of the party or the leader concerned.
With the Chief Minister categorically telling all party members and the public not to waste money on such hoardings and use them instead for socially purposeful causes, the hoardings were not to be seen on Monday.
The municipal authorities have also been warned against allowing any hoardings. But the entire money was obviously diverted to the newspapers.
Most newspapers, starved after the festive glut, seem to have made a killing over Kamal Nath's fight against hoardings. Multiple-page advertisements have adorned the newspapers. The advertisement in question talks about Nath's political journey. A few instances mentioned have kicked up a controversy that could reverberate for quite some time.
Talking about Nath's loss in the 1996 polls from Chhindwara, the ad says, "1996 mein unhe (Kamal Nath) Sunderlal Patwa ne chunav me patakhani di thi (Sunderlal Patwa had knocked him out in the 1996 election)."
It goes on to say the Janata Party government had sent Sanjay Gandhi to Tihar in 1979 and Indira Gandhi was concerned for his safety. Nath then 'deliberately' argued with a judge and was sent to Tihar jail where he stayed with Sanjay.
The ad mentions that in 1993, Nath's name was in line for being the Chief Minister. "However, Arjun Singh forwarded Digvijaya Singh's name and he couldn't become the CM," says the ad.
A more offending remark was that this time around the party has made him the Chief Minister after Digvijaya Singh's consent.
Excerpts from the advertisement have gone viral on social media with Opposition BJP taking pot shots at the Chief Minister.
"Kamal Nath's media team spared no effort in embarrassing the CM him on his birthday," BJP spokesperson Milan Bhargava said.
Public Relations Minister P.C. Sharma, who happens to be a close confidant of Digvijaya Singh, termed it a conspiracy by the BJP. "Who paid for the huge ad? How does BJP gain from this advertisement," he asked.
State Congress Treasurer Govind Goyal, who is often described as Digvijaya Singh's ATM for his proximity to the former Chief Minister, also shirked off the responsibility saying the party has nothing to do with the advertisement. Goyal even offered to resign if no one was punished for this advertisement.
Congress organisational General Secretary Chandra Prabhash Shekhar said that it wasn't an authorised advertisement issued by the Congress party. A probe would be ordered into the case, he said.