2015 saw the Madhya Pradesh rocked by the Vyapam scam, witnessed the ruling BJP’s fall in various elections, and suffer tragedies such as the Harda twin-train accidents, the Petlawad blasts and extensive crop damage; here’s taking stock of the year that saw the state make national and international headlines.
Twenty-fifteen has been a rough ride for Madhya Pradesh which gave the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Vyapam bumps and rocked people with Harda twin-train tragedy and Petlawad blast.
However, the multi-crore Vyapam (also known as the Professional Examination Board now) scam kept the state in a bad light through a major part of the year. One of the reasons has been involvement of high-profile persons in the scam and mysterious deaths of prime witnesses one after other. The Congress used the opportunity to give embarrassing moments to the Chouhan government.
However, there have been some sentimental moments in the form of deaf and dumb girl Geeta’s return from Pakistan, who is yet to find her parents though. India-South Africa one-dayer in Indore and Cyclothan 2015 gave some relaxing stopovers during the rough journey. Mass Surya Namaskar passed off peacefully but it did see some Islamic groups issuing fatwa against it calling it “un-islamic.’ Hindu devotees were at their mythical best when they related receding of rain waters in Ujjain to the miracle of Mahakaal, whose shivalingam was for the first time submerged in rain water.
Scam vs Chouhan
Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan himself won’t forget the year as he was dragged into the scam controversy by none other than senior Congress leader and former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, Digvijaya Singh.
Chouhan battled charges pertaining to the recruitment scam from former chief minster Digvijaya Singh -who led the attack on the CM following the death of journalist Akshay Singh probing the scam. However, as the year rolled towards its end, former minister Laxmikant Sharma, who was arrested in connection with the scam got bail. Mysterious deaths of persons related to Vyapam scam dented Chouhan’s image and became his worst ever political crisis. The year also witnessed the celebration-less completion of the chief minister’s completion of 10 years in office.
It was indeed a gloomy year for the state. Major tragedies like Harda twin-train accident and Petlawad blast will continue to haunt the state for a long time to come.
Setback for BJP
The ruling BJP also came to terms with its fading electoral magic in some areas of the state. It was a political jolt they didn’t expect. The Congress party not only won the Ratlam-Jhabua Lok Sabha bypoll this year, increasing its tally to 45 in the Lok Sabha, but also won five out of eight local body elections held recently. The Congress termed the victory as “reflective of the mood of the people to bring about a change”.
The state also witnessed crop damage and drought in many areas, sparking a spate of farmer suicides. The suicides continued intermittently in many parts of the state, despite chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s assurance to the farmers that private moneylenders and people who have leased out land for farming would not be allowed to harass them for recovery of loan or share money.
Big cat scare
For the first time, tigers started straying closer to residential areas in the state capital, making Bhopal perhaps the only city in the country where a tiger was moving within the city municipal limits.
According to officials, around six tigers, including the young ones were seen moving out of Ratapani wildlife sanctuary, about 40 kilometres from Bhopal as part of territorial expansion and find a new prey base. The National Green Tribunal even questioned the state government as to what steps it had taken to pre-empt man-tiger conflict in Bhopal.
In a year dominated by negative news, September brought some cheers when Hindi lovers and scholars from across the world poured into Bhopal to attend the tenth world Hindi conference, which was organised for the first time in India since 1983.