BHOPAL: A controversy has erupted in Madhya Pradesh with a video purportedly showing a BJP leader flagging off six mini trucks which are meant to carry dead bodies, an incident the opposition Congress dubbed a "shameless photo-shoot".
It is also alleged that one of these "shav vahans" carrying a dead body was stopped for the photoshoot.
The incident occurred close on the heels of state minister Tulsiram Silawat and his supporters recently breaking coconuts and a priest chanting prayers in front of an oxygen tanker in Indore.
In one of the two videos, former Bhopal mayor and BJP leader Alok Sharma was seen flagging off six "shav vahans" or vehicles to carry corpses which he handed over to different hospitals.
In one video clip, Sharma is seen with the vehicles decorated with flowers.
In another video, one of these vans was seen carrying a corpse with a voice telling the driver to move slowly for the video shoot.
However, Sharma was not visible in this clip.
Sharma has denied the allegations.
"I purchased these vehicles after reading reports about the shortage of 'Shav Vahans' to carry bodies. Media persons were present when I was handing over these vehicles to the management of the hospital concerned," he told PTI.
He termed the allegations against him a "dirty politics by the Congress to stir a controversy".
"I was receiving repeated calls for the arrangement of these vehicles.
People have to wait for carrying their dead in the absence of such vehicles," the BJP leader said.
Sharma said when he was handing over these vehicles to JP Hospital (the district hospital) campus, a person came to the hospital asking to arrange an ambulance to carry a corpse.
"I handed over the vehicle to the hospital management. Later, JP Hospital gave that vehicle to that person. The vehicle with the dead body passed from there in the presence of the media. We are making genuine attempts to make arrangements," Sharma said.
On the other hand, Madhya Pradesh Congress spokesman Narendra Saluja termed the incident a "shameful act".
"Earlier, BJP leaders had worshipped an oxygen tanker in Indore and halted its passage for delivery of oxygen. Now, another leader is seen flagging off Shav Vahans. In another incident, a minister inaugurated a covid care centre. They are finding 'Apada Me Avsar' for a photo shoot," Saluja said.