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Home > News > PTI

Finally! BJP breathes easy in Madhya Pradesh

Aditi Phadnis | December 03, 2005 19:14 IST
Last Updated: December 03, 2005 19:41 IST


At last, peace is likely to break out in the Bharatiya Janata Party unit of Madhya Pradesh.

In the past two years, after the party rode to victory in the assembly elections, there has not been a day of tranquility in the government.

Now, with Shivraj Singh Chouhan being put firmly in the saddle, hopefully there will be more press conferences in Bhopal about Madhya Pradesh than about errant MLAs' activities.

BJP walking the tight-rope in MP

Actually, Chouhan had always been envisaged as the chief minister, right from the days of the assembly campaign. He was fielded from Raghogarh, against former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijay Singh, so that later the party could be told that he was the one who defeated the CM and, therefore, should represent the BJP in the top job.

The BJP was aware that Chouhan - who is from an Other Backward Caste (he is a Kurmi) - could prove to be a challenger to fellow OBC politician Uma Bharti, in the future. But the thinking was that Bharti was more valuable in the centre rather than as a state-level leader. So Chouhan's challenge would be manageable.

What is as yet untested is Chouhan's administrative acumen, for he has never been a minister, let alone a chief minister. Babulal Gaur had announced that the demand and supply gap of power in the state would be bridged to the extent of 1,500 MW by 2007 and that at least 4,000 km of roads would be added to the state roads network. Neither has happened. Half the BJP's five-year term is over. Voters are waiting to see results.

Chouhan has another big advantage in his favour. He has the unequivocal backing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. The Sangh is very strong in Madhya Pradesh, and in fact, the Congress government of MP (then Central Provinces & Berar) was the first in the country to enact a law to outlaw religious conversions based on the Justice Niyogi Commission Report.

That was as far back as 1951, indicating that even the Congress had to bow before the pressure mounted by the Sangh. Chouhan is modest, gentle and soft-spoken - representatives from all groups in the BJP testify to this. So he is unlikely to face much dissidence.

It is possible that Chouhan will trip up on administrative matters. But the beleaguered BJP can expect a respite from internal bickering. Optimists in the party say the succession question in the Madhya Pradesh unit has been settled for at least the next 15 years. They are fervent in thanking God for this.



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