Ruling a big state like Madhya Pradesh has its own sets of challenges. In the last 11 years, Chouhan has not only faced challenges from the past, but there have been new ones that have kept him on his toes.
Even now nearly one-third of the population is poor. About 2.3 crore people (31.6%), are poor as compared to 21.9% at the national level, according to Suresh Tendulkar Methodology. However, according to 2014 C Rangarajan panel report, there are nearly 3.2 crore poor people (44.3 %) as compared to 29.5 % at the national level.
MP set up a happiness department in July, but it remains to be seen how much it can make a difference. In a state beset with malnutrition deaths and farmer suicides, any effort to deliver ‘happiness’ at the institutional level is a daunting task. And,what will be the definition of happiness?
Safety of children
Official data shows that MP is among one of the most unsafe states in India. Between February 1 last year to January 31 this year, 2,552 minors were raped and another 122 were gang raped. The NCRB data for 2015 shows 35 cases of sexual abuse and crimes against children were reported daily. It also revealed overall 12,859 instances of crime against children were reported last year.
Safety of women
Crime data reveals on an average 12 women are raped every day. According to the 2015 NCRB data, Madhya Pradesh reported highest number of rape cases (4,391) in India. Bringing down cases of sexual exploitation and violence against women is one of the biggest challenges for Chouhan.
Bringing down infant deaths is another Herculean task. For last 12 years, Madhya Pradesh has topped the country in infant mortality rate, putting a question mark on the state government’s initiatives and claims on improving healthcare. MP has the highest infant mortality rate with 52 deaths per 1,000 live births.
Scores of malnutrition nutrition deaths in Shivpuri district makes it clear that malnutrition is still claiming young lives. Over 42 % of the children under the age of 5 are stunted (height for age), 25.8 % are wasted (low weight-for-height) and 42.8 % are underweight.
Though the state boasts of robust agricultural growth, three farmer suicides are reported on an average daily. There have been 18,687 farmer suicides between 2001 and 2015. Crops losses due to scanty rainfall, drought or hailstorm/heavy rainfall, delay in compensation often force farmers to take the extreme step of ending lives.
The state of healthcare can be imagined when a collector has to struggle to get basic medical facilities. This is not all. Botched up eye surgeries, fire breaking out in the special newborn care units, infants dying after being administered nitrous oxide instead of oxygen show healthcare needs a major revamp.
Exorcising the ghost of Vyapam
The multi-crore Vyapam scam has dented the image of Madhya Pradesh. The involvement of high-profile persons and the mysterious deaths of witnesses have raised questions over law and order as well as governance. The opposition Congress consistently raises issues related to Vyapam scam to embarrass the government.
The government has organised five Global Investment Summits since 2007 but it been often criticized not all big promises materialize later. There are many sectors such as tourism – despite having good potential – which are in need of proper marketing.
Political bickering Chouhan’s “invincibility” bothered Congress in the state. But the opposition party won the Ratlam-Jhabua Lok Sabha bypoll and five out of eight local body elections last year. Though BJP won both the Shahdol bypoll, the winning margin dropped. There are two bypoll in March next year. BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya targeting the government makes it clear that the rift between the two leaders is widening