In The NewsMadhya Pradesh 2013 Assembly Election Results (voter turnout – 70%): 165 seats BJP | 58 seats Congress (2nd)Shivraj Chauhan: Elected Chief Minister for the 3rd consecutive term. Post-election comment from Jyotiraditya Scindia of Congress: "I am very disappointed over MP polls results.These results are a wake-up call for all senior leaders of the party. There is need for introspection in party."
Madhya Pradesh, once a part of BIMARU States (Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh) has for all practical purposes moved out of its former ‘sickly’ state under the stewardship of the soft-spoken Shivraj Chauhan. Considered one of the ‘sickest’ State economies of the country till 2003, MP moved to a GDP of 10.2% in 2011-12. In April 2013, Madhya Pradesh incredibly declared that they were selling 100 lakh units of electricity to neighbouring states every day because they were actually managing to generate an excess of power. Quite a quantum leap for one of the BIMARU, this.
Shivraj Chauhan, Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh since 2005 and credited with the turnaround of the State, started out with RSS and ABVP before joining Jan Sangh (which later morphed into BJP). Like many in the BJP, Chauhan participated in the anti-Emergency movement in 1976 – 77 and was even imprisoned at that time.
A gold medallist Philosophy post-graduate, Chauhan, a farmer’s son, was an Agriculturist by profession before joining politics. Chauhan first became Chief Minister in 2005 of a State ravaged by abject poverty, poor infrastructure, horrendous gender ratio with very high female infanticide, poor developmental initiatives, a spill over of Khap Panchayats from the neighbouring States, corruption and lack of investment opportunities for businesses amongst other malaises. In addition to all these, Madhya Pradesh has the highest forest cover in all of India. That means that a majority of the population are tribals. On the up-side, with tribals the issue of minorities and caste-based movements hasn’t come yet. On the downside, it means that most people are not educated. Handling these is a daunting and onerous task.
As a Chief Minister, this ‘son of the soil’ introduced programmes and schemes for women. Ladli Lakshmi Yojna, Kanyadhan Yojna and Janani Suraksha Yojna all aim at improving the lot of women in the State. This is seen as a masterstroke. Instead of concentrating on any particular group Shivraj Chauhan’s schemes encompassed an entire gender irrespective of their caste, creed, religion, region or suchlike. The Ladli Lakshmi Yojna which offers National Savings Certificates for the girl child was expected to be the most popular. However, the payback under this scheme in across years and even decades of the girl’s life. In an age of instant gratification, the Kanyadhan Yojna and Janani Suraksha Yojna ended up being more popular. Under the first, as the name suggests, the government bears the expense of a girl’s wedding. This had a two-pronged purpose. The first was to ensure that girls aren’t murdered at birth because of a future expense. And the second was to alleviate the high cost of marriage which many of the populace staggering under poverty was unable to bear – which in turn had led to female foeticide and female infanticide. Janani Suraksha Yojna promises medical help for a mother during childbirth. His wife, Sadhana Singh (whom he married in 1992), who is supposed to have quite a say in the government is quietly credited with the focus on women in the State. While the schemes have been popular, critics say that this is a drain on government resources and cynics do not expect them to last on a longer term.
These have Chauhan’s popular welfare measures. Besides welfare, during his term/s Madhya Pradesh also began exploring its tremendous historical (Gwalior, Jhansi, Mandu, Bhimbhetka), mythological (2 of the 12 Jyotirlings), natural (the maximum number of tiger reserves in the country, the marble rocks) and spiritual (Sanchi, Ashok Stambh, Khajuraho) reserves by making the State an exciting destination for tourists. It was perhaps the first state to understand the domestic tourism market and launch amazingly well thought out, well executed and attractive ads on TV (Hindustan Ka Dil Dekho, MP Ajab Hai Sabse Gajab Hai and Hindustan Ka Dil Dekha). Attracting tourists meant higher income for the State, more investment from tourism-related services like hotels, more employment (in hotels, transportation and as guides) and better infrastructure (which would be partly private funded by major hotel chains).
Being elected for a third term is clearly indicative of Chauhan’s success because most elections see an anti-incumbency vote. Having been given one more term as Chief Minister, this is the time for Chauhan to consolidate the state of the State as he doesn’t have the excuse of lack of time to see the fructification of his schemes. On the other hand, such popularity and trust could lead to complacency and corruption. The next five years will unfold the path Chauhan takes.
By Sujata Garimella
Image Source: Neeu Singh@Facebook
Video Source: Axnboy@Youtube