In criticism of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, MP chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had once told media persons that the prime minister just listened to him, nodding, but never doing anything vis-à-vis his demands for the state.
A few years on and the chief minister is still finding it hard to get the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre to provide Rs 2,400 crore in view of the ongoing agrarian crisis in the state.
This turn of events has brought in question Chouhan’s frequent criticism of the former United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in general and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in particular.
Last year, the ruling party had called for a state-wide bandh (shutdown) on March 6 over the then UPA-led government’s alleged apathetic attitude towards rain- and hailstorm-affected farmers in the state.
The chief minister and his ministerial colleagues observed a fast on the day and sat on dharna at TT Nagar, Bhopal in the presence of BJP workers and others.
Chouhan in his speeches and talks with journalists had blamed the UPA government for adopting a step-motherly treatment against Madhya Pradesh.
He had also demanded immediate release of a Rs 5,000-crore relief package from the Centre and the creation of a national disaster relief fund from which relief amount could be released to states in their hour of crisis.
At the time, he had even said he would visit the prime minister and others concerned for the farmers’ relief fund and that a sum of Rs 2,000 crore had been earmarked especially for farmers.
Needless to say, not much appears to have changed since then.
During his interaction with farmers via All India Radio on Wednesday evening, the chief minister spoke about taking a loan for providing relief to farmers. Earlier, he said 15% of the budget of the every department would be curtailed to meet the demand for providing compensation to farmers.
“During the UPA regime, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan kept blaming the Centre despite the fact the then government gave him enough assistance, unlike the present NDA government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Chouhan has no courage to speak out against Modi,” said senior Congress leader Abhay Dubey.
Dubey said the chief minister had staged a dharna against the then UPA government at least four times - in April 2008, February 2010, June 2012 and March 2014 - but for the past one and a half years, since his own party came to power at the Centre, he hasn’t said a single word against the government.
Looking to refute Dubey’s claim, parliamentary affairs minister in the Chouhan cabinet and the state government’s spokesperson Narottam Mishra said it was wrong to say the NDA government hasn’t provided any assistance to the state, but he didn’t give any details of the assistance provided.