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Chauhan ready to move centrestage

The Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, Shivraj Singh Chauhan has given a clear indication that he is ready to accept any crucial responsibility at the Central level in his party.

In an interview with a local English daily, he said that he was ready to campaign across the nation for the Bharatiya Janata Party in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. While saying that, he made a proviso that he would do so only if the party wants. Chauhan was asked this question in the context of his name being mentioned for the job of the Prime Ministership. It is generally believed that those in the Sangh Parivar, who want to prevent the projection of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as the sole Prime Ministerial candidate of the BJP, are keen that Chauhan should also be bundled along with Modi. It is a well-known fact that that Chauhan is the blue-eyed boy of the RSS.

During his eight-year-long Chief Ministership, nobody can cite a single example when he defied the Sangh Parivar. How much he tries to please (or appease) the Sangh leadership was displayed by the series of transfers of IAS and IPS officers, ordered last Sunday. The officers who have been transferred include Commissioner, Indore Division, IGP of Indore zone and Superintendent of police of Dhar district. The tough stand taken by these officers prevented an explosive situation from taking a violent turn on Basant Panchmi day in Dhar. Dhar is a district-headquarter town in Madhya Pradesh, where Bhojshala is located. Bhojshala is a disputed historical building, controlled by the ASI, over which both Muslims and Hindus lay their claim. While Muslims say it is a mosque, Hindus assert that it is a temple dedicated to Goddess Saraswati. In order to resolve the dispute, the government, a couple of years back, allowed Hindus to perform Puja on Tuesdays and Muslims to offer
namaz
or Fridays in the Bhojshala. This year, Basant Panchmi, the day Hindus worship Saraswati, happened to be a Friday, creating a piquant situation for the government. The Hindus insisted that they would perform puja throughout the day and would not allow Muslims to offer prayers. Muslims also insisted that they will not give up their right to offer prayers.

Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal announced that they would lay a siege on the Bhojshala and would prevent Muslims from entering the structure. Of course, the RSS also backed its affiliates VHP and Bajrang Dal. Prior to Basant Panchmi, Dr. Pravin Togadia visited Madhya Pradesh and declared that on that day, Hindus would perform puja throughout the day. Thousands of Hindus congregated at Dhar on the call of Hindutva bodies. But despite the massive presence of the Hindus and hawkish Hindutva leaders, the police bought Muslims in a bus and ensured that they offered prayers there. Police resorted to lathi charge to disperse the unruly crowds.

Again, to humour the RSS, Shivraj Singh Chauhan has given Hindu names to many developmental schemes. For instance, government-funded mass marriage ceremony for poor girls has been named as ‘Kanyadaan.’ The scheme to discourage female foeticide is called ‘Ladli Laxmi.’ Recently, he launched a scheme titled ‘Tirth Darshan’ for free pilgrimage for senior citizens. Under this programme, senior citizens are taken by special trains to various place of pilgrimage. The state government bears the entire cost of the pilgrimages. Perhaps Madhya Pradesh is the only state where government servants are allowed to participate in the activities of the RSS. At a programme, Chauhan proudly informed the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat that in Madhya Pradesh, government servants freely take part in RSS activities. Besides, to please the RSS, the government has allotted hundreds of acres of prime land to various RSS outfits in is state. In Bhopal, ABVP has built a massive building at a prominent location in the city. Chauhan allows the RSS to interfere in the working of the state government. Chauhan’s abject surrender before RSS and its subsidiaries is in sharp contrast to Gujarat, where Narendra Modi has nearly expelled Praveen Togadia from the state and where the VHP is not allowed to create any law and order problem for the government.

Between Modi and Chauhan, the RSS may prefer Chauhan. He is also likely to be the first choice of LK Advani, who, during his recent visit to Madhya Pradesh, showered huge praises on Chauhan. But despite him being the blue-eyed boy of RSS, Chauhan will have to ensure BJP victory in the state Vidhan Sabha elections, which are slated to take place by the end of 2013. If he fails to capture power again, his fate may be sealed forever. Looking at the state of affairs in the state Congress, the BJP stands a fair chance of re-capturing power in the State. The Congress is a house divided against itself. The other day, a local English Daily carried a sensational story disclosing close links between Kantilal Bhuria, Madhya Pradesh Congress President and BJP leaders.

This close link is not in the area of politics but in the areas of trade, business and industry. The story listed many enterprises in which Bhuria’s close aides and BJP leaders have common interests. After the publication of this story, Vidhan Sabha corridors were agog with the rumours that the sensational story was planted by Jyotiraditya Scindia, who too is a candidate for the post of the Chief Minister. Interestingly, the daily which carried the story is known for its close proximity with the Scindia family. How such a divided party can effectively challenge the BJP, nobody knows. (IPA)
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