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Chouhan consolidates BJP rule in Madhya Pradesh

Chouhan consolidates BJP rule in Madhya Pradesh
On November 29, 2014, Shivraj Singh Chauhan entered his tenth year as Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh. Such a long tenure for a chief minister itself is a record in Madhya Pradesh. Only Digvijay Singh has the distinction of completing a decade in the post. Leave aside ten years, only two chief ministers have remained in office for the full five-year term. They were Dr. KN Katju who was made Chief Minister by Jawaharlal Nehru after the sudden death of Pt. Ravi Shankar Shukla in 1956.

Shukla was the first chief minister of the new Madhya Pradesh. He could only complete two months  in office and died in Delhi after severe heart attack. The second leader, who could complete five years, was Arjun Singh. Barring these two, no other chief minister has completed a five-year term. Chauhan is the fifth BJP leader to attain the top post.

The four others are VK Sakhlecha, SL Patwa, Uma Bharati and Babulal Gaur. Sakhlecha's and Patwa's term ended abruptly because of the imposition of president's rule. Uma Bharati and Babulal Gaur had to quit as per the directive of the party.

Shivraj Singh was a member of parliament when he was asked to take up the stewardship of Madhya Pradesh. He had no administrative experience. Many thought he would be a disaster but he belied expectations, not only in non-BJP circles but also his own party men. Thus far, he has never faced any challenge within the BJP. There may by factions in the ruling party but none have openly dared to challenge his authority.

This was largely due to two factors. Firstly, it was the unstinted support by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leadership, including Dr. Mohan Bhagwat. Secondly, his popularity among the masses, which he earned due to several populist schemes launched by the state government. RSS is happy with him because he did the bidding of the RSS, unlike any previous  BJP chief minister in the country. In 2006 he lifted the ban which prevented government employees from participating in  RSS-led social activities.

He also introduced many schemes and projects, which nearly converted Madhya Pradesh into a Hindu state. Such steps include making the study of Gita compulsory, introducing Sanskrit as one of the compulsory languages, performing Surya Namaskar in schools, launching special pilgrimage trains to carry elderly devotees to various holy places in the state, giving substantial help to the poor for the marriage of their daughters. This scheme is known as 'Kanyadan' Insurance to the tune of Rs one lakh for the girl child. This scheme is known as 'Ladli Laxmi'. Several thousand families have benefited by this scheme.

He has named many development schemes after Hindu religious terms. For example water conservation scheme is known as Jalabhishek, the village uplift ment scheme as Gokul and Ayodhya, among others.  Besides he continues to toe the RSS line about minorities. For example, he announced in the Vidhan Sabha that he would never implement the recommendations of the Sachhar Committee. He further said that if the Sacchar Committee recommendations are implemented, it would result in another partition of the country. Due to such utterances, he has become a blue eyed boy of the RSS. His oratory touches the heart of the people.

The Congress suffered a humiliating defeat in 2003 because of its failure to ensure regular supply of electricity and miserable conditions of roads. Chauhan did well in these two areas. In today’s day and age, people from the state receive uninterrupted supply of electricity and the conditions of roads have improved to a considerable extent. By holding a series of investors meet he could lure industrialists to think in terms of investing in Madhya Pradesh.

But there are certain negative factors also. Top among them a are the massive cases of corruption that have blighted his administration. More than 300 top officers, including a former Cabinet Minister (Laxmikant Sharma), are behind the bars for their involvement in corrupt activities.

Allegations have surface that hundreds of persons could get jobs by greasing the palms of those who had the authority to give them jobs by manipulating selection processes. The Profession Examination Board became a cesspool of corruption. Non-deserving persons managed to get admissions in medical colleges and colleges of dentistry.

During raids by various agencies on the residences, illegal property worth crores were found in the possession of Government servants including clerks and in some cases even class four employees. An IAS couple has been dismissed after they were found owning property, worth more than Rs. 300 crores. The political climate emboldened government servants to indulge in corrupt activities. IPA

L S Herdenia

L S Herdenia

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