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How Raman Singh retained Chhattisgarh

December 12, 2008 15:04 IST

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The ability to push populist economic programmes and splendid organizational skills have propelled 56-year-old ayurveda doctor Raman Singh to a second consecutive term in Chhattisgarh.

For the doctor with a squeaky clean image, It was a long journey from national politics to becoming the face of the party in the tribal-dominated state.

The party sent him to Raipur as the unit president of the newly-formed state, from where he fought to earn the distinction of becoming the first-elected chief minister of Chhattisgarh though the party did not even project him as a candidate for the top post.

Maintaining its previous record, the saffron party retained power in the state by winning 50 seats again, leaving behind the Congress which could only secure 38 seats.

Ask him how he managed this feat fighting the anti-incumbency factor, and Singh said, "It is because of my government's pro-poor policies, including provision of cheap rice to 35 lakh families."

Born on October 15, 1952 to Vighnaharan Singh Thakur, a leading lawyer of Kawardha, and Sudha Singh, the chief minister obtained a B Sc degree in 1971-72 and a degree in ayurvedic medicine in 1975.

Singh's baptism in politics took place during his student days when he was attracted to the ideology of Bharatiya Jan Sangh. He became the President of Bharatiya Jan Sangh Yuva [Images] Morcha, Kawardha unit in 1976-77.

His tryst with electoral politics began in the early 1990s when he was elected to the Madhya Pradesh [Images] assembly from Kawardha.

But after losing the assembly polls from his traditional constituency in 1998, Singh shifted to Delhi [Images] by successfully contesting 1999 Lok Sabha polls from Ranandgaon constituency.

The change also saw Singh getting his initiation in the corridors of power when he was appointed the Minister of State for Commerce.

After a four-year stint at the Centre, the BJP sent Singh back to state political scenario giving him the responsibility of leading the party in Chhattisgarh's first assembly elections in 2003 after the formation of the state. He took on the mantle after the then union minister in the Vajpayee government and senior party leader Ramesh Bais refused to head the party to the election.

When BJP came out with flying colours in the 2003 polls, Singh was rewarded with the chief ministership for having given up the ministerial job at the Centre and maintaining an image not sullied by controversies.

After catapulting himself to the top post, Singh went about consolidating his position by focusing on governance.

Under his leadership, Chhattisgarh stood first in the country in the implementation of the 20-point programme on the development of Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes (2006-2007), a feat certified by the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre.

The United Nations has also given its highest award to Chhattisgarh in recognition of its human development model.

His pleasant demeanour, openness and simplicity have also made him a popular leader.

At a time of growing dynasty politics, Singh has managed to keep his son, an engineering graduate, and daughter, studying medicine, away from politics and power.

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