The Madhya Pradesh government on Tuesday said it was going to withdraw all ‘politically motivated’ cases filed by the previous Bharatiya Janata Party government.
The saffron party ruled the state for 15 years since 2003 before being unseated by the Congress in the November 28 assembly polls.
The move comes a day after Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati threatened to reconsider her party's support to the Congress in the state and neighbouring Rajasthan, if cases in connection with Bharat bandh on April 2 last year were not withdrawn.
Meanwhile, reacting to the BSP supremo's demand to withdraw cases lodged against ‘innocent’ Bharat Bandh protesters last April, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Tuesday said his government will examine them.
The shutdown was called by Dalit organisations against the alleged dilution of the SC/ST Act due to a Supreme Court order.
The April 2 protest had crippled several parts of Madhya Pradesh and the subsequent violence left eight persons, mainly from the Dalit communities, dead.
"We are going to withdraw the politically motivated cases filed by the previous BJP government in Madhya Pradesh in past 15 years against the Congress, Samajwadi Party, BSP, Left parties, Narmada Bachao Andolan activists, farmers, employees and journalists," state Law and Legislative Affairs Minister P C Sharma told PTI.
Asked whether Mayawati's threat had prompted the MP government to go for the withdrawal of such cases, he said, "No, it is not the case".
"The new (Congress) regime was already considering the withdrawal of politically motivated cases. Majority of these matters are against the Congress," Sharma said.
"Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath ji, our senior leaders and Mayawati ji were in talks for quite some time on the issue.
"Nath had already announced that all politically motivated cases in MP would be withdrawn," the minister said, but did not give details on when the chief minister had made such a statement.
In Jaipur, Gehlot said, “Mayawati's demand is natural.”
"Cases were lodged against the Dalits and how many of them were guilty is a matter of investigation,” he said.
"Sometimes, those who are innocent are booked. She might be right in her perspective and the government will look into it and will examine the cases. The innocent should not be framed,” he said.
Gehlot also there should be rule of law in the country and the government should function on that basis.
In a hard-hitting press release issued in Lucknow on Monday, Mayawati had said, "If the newly-elected governments in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan do not act swiftly and withdraw the cases against the innocent persons framed in Bharat Bandh, the BSP may have to reconsider extending the outside support to the Congress governments."
The BSP is supporting the Congress in both MP and Rajasthan, where the latter had fallen short of the majority mark.
The Congress won 114 seats in Madhya Pradesh, short of the 116-majority mark in the 230-member House, while in Rajasthan it stopped at 99 seats in the 200-member House.
In MP, two MLAs from the BSP, one from the Samajwadi Party and four Independents are supporting the Congress.
In August last year, the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, 2018, overturning a Supreme Court order concerning certain safeguards against arrest under the SC/ST law, was passed by Parliament.