Looking at Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s tenure as chief minister, one thing is abundantly clear: he seems to have been hit by controversies not so much for his own actions, but that of the alleged transgressions of his wife Sadhna Singh.
Starting with the dumper scam to the controversy over the warehouse owned by her to that of the alleged patronage to the mining mafia and now the Professional Examination Board (PEB) scam, her name has figured everywhere, much to the chagrin of the chief minister who believes she is being targeted by the Congress more to embarrass him.
But somehow, the allegations surrounding Sadhna Singh refuse to die down. Sadhna, who hails from the vibrant Maharashtra town of Gondia, got married to Chouhan in 1992 and till the time her husband became the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh in 2005, very little was known about her.
The only function in which she used to appear in public with her husband was the mass marriage programme in his village in Sehore district, which the couple used to organise every year in a grand manner. The Chouhan couple would perform Kanyadan of poor girls during the occasion.
This, perhaps, was the genesis of the Mukhya Mantri Kanya Dan Yojana, which Chouhan launched when he became the chief minister.
Though she continues to remain an enigma to a large number of people, Singh is a household name in the state, thanks to the controversies that have been following her one after the other.
In the dumper scam, her name surfaced because the dumpers were in her name. Singh was then dragged into the warehouse controversy as the property was in her name. Attempts were also made to drag her name in organised crimes like illegal mining or PEB admission and recruitment racket, and though they appear far-fetched, her detractors don’t think so.
Congress chief spokesperson KK Mishra, who alleged her involvement in the PEB scam a couple of days back, said, “This is known to everyone in the BJP, the bureaucracy and everywhere that Sadhna Singh has been acting like super CM in MP.
It’s not that only we are targeting them. You can ask the BJP leaders and they would give you better details of her influence on the working of the Chouhan cabinet.” Mishra is not the only one targeting Singh over the PEB scam.
Leader of the opposition in the previous assembly, Ajay Singh, was all set to launch an offensive on Chouhan for her alleged involvement in the scam and had even proposed a no-confidence motion in the last session of the House. But it could never be taken up for debate.
Her sympathisers point out that nobody would have dared raise their fingers at Digvijaya Singh’s wife, the late Asha Singh or Arjun Singh’s wife Saroj Singh because of their feudal background.
But since Chouhan comes from a modest background, Congress leaders feel free to attack his wife despite knowing that she is not a public figure and won’t be able to respond to the charges against her, claim her supporters.
But Mishra argues that the wives of Digvijaya and Arjun never interfered in the official work of their husbands. “They were housewives and their roles were accordingly limited. But when somebody is profoundly influencing the course of politics, she would be targeted as and when there is a chance and reason,” Mishra said. BJP spokesperson Vishwas Sarang, however, said the Congress was dragging Sadhna’s name every now and then for cheap publicity.
“They have been rejected by the people. They are left with no issues. This is one way to get cheap publicity. In our tradition we are taught to respect women. Maybe, the Congress leaders have learnt the opposite from Italy,” Sarang said.