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Is Chouhan trying to bridge gap with Modi in PM race?

Madhya Pradesh CM eager to score hat-trick too, makes success in agri his USP, Shekhar Iyer reports.

delhi Updated: Jan 16, 2013 23:35 IST
Shekhar Iyer

Eager to bag a Narendra Modi-like hat trick, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is showcasing his government’s achievements — particularly in agriculture — while his supporters are putting his name in the mix as BJP’s prime ministerial candidate.

Chouhan has made the agriculture sector his USP ahead of the state assembly polls due to be held before December this year when he will seek a third term in office.

Madhya Pradesh received the Krishi Karman Award, 2011-12 for being the best performing state under total foodgrains category-1 (states with production over 10 million tonnes ) from President Pranab Mukherjee at a function in Rashtrapati Bhawan on Tuesday.

The award was seen as a feather in Chouhan's cap by BJP leaders close to him.

A favourite of party’s ideological parent the RSS, Chouhan had got Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat to inaugurate the first of its kind cow sanctuary spread over 472 acre at Susner in Shajapur. A few days ago, he invited LK Advani to augurate a scheme for senior citizens to undertake pilgrimage all over the country.

Unlike Modi, Chouhan involves central BJP leaders while launching development schemes in the state.

But is this Chouhan’s attempt to compete with Modi for the top spot? RSS sources say Chouhan’s turn will come only after Modi. An RSS insider said Chouhan is more of a state performer than a national-level aspirant for the top slot.

Last Sunday, Madhya Pradesh BJP chief Narendra Singh Tomar had said Chouhan had the capability to become the PM. "Chouhan is at present the Chief Minister....But he also has the capability to become Prime Minister of the country," Tomar told reporters in Indore. He also added that, at present the party needed Chouhan's leadership in Madhya Pradesh "for turning it into a golden state”.

In 2010, Swaraj had hailed his government's human development index record was better than Gujarat's growth model.