‘Broke records in development’: CM Chouhan confident of victory in MP polls | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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‘Broke records in development’: CM Shivraj Chouhan confident of victory in Madhya Pradesh polls

Jul 17, 2023 08:18 AM IST

“I am fully confident 2023 will not be 2018,” he said in response to a question by HT at an interaction with the media in Bhopal over the weekend.

Bhopal:

Madhya pradesh chief minister Shivaraj Singh Chouhan says he is confident about 2023 elections. (ANI)
Madhya pradesh chief minister Shivaraj Singh Chouhan says he is confident about 2023 elections. (ANI)

As he prepares for an electoral battle later this year to retain power in the state, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said infrastructure development and welfare schemes of the government over the years have put the Bharatiya Janata Party leagues ahead of the Congress, and that will be key in bucking anti-incumbency to help script a poll victory for the party.

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“I am fully confident 2023 will not be 2018,” he said in response to a question by HT at an interaction with the media in Bhopal over the weekend.

Chouhan, who has been in the seat of power since 2005, barring a 15-month period in 2018 when the party lost the election, said he was confident that the party will not face the fate it met at the last election.

In 2018, the BJP won 109 of the 230 seats, while the Congress won 114 to form the government, but in March 2020, after 21 legislators resigned from the Congress and crossed over to the BJP, Chouhan was back in the chief minister’s chair.

Development and welfare

The government, he said, is banking on development, social welfare schemes and avenues for employment generation to win the mandate.

“There is no match for our development work. I will give you just one example. Take irrigation; the state has broken all records, there has been a growth of 18% in the sector in a decade and a half and that is nothing short of magical. During the British rule and then during the Congress regime, only 7.5 lakh hectare was irrigated, now it is 27 lakh hectare, and the aim is to scale it to 65 lakh hectare,” he said.

Having identified development as a key poll plank, Chouhan said, “There is no comparison between the Congress and us when it comes to development, roads, power, etc. Vikas ko mudda banane ke liye hum jee jaan se prayas karenge aur who bana chahiye aur who log sweekar karte hai (We will make all efforts to make development the issue, as it should be and that it is accepted by the people).”

The chief minister is hopeful that the social welfare programmes, particularly those that have been designed for women and the economically and socially backward will help the party tide over the administrative deficiencies, allegations of corruption and unemployment.

“The government is for lok kalyan (people’s welfare). Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) says gareeb kalyan (welfare of the poor) is our sankalp (resolution). We have done great work in that sphere, and we will make it front and centre (of our election campaign),” he said.

Unemployment and corruption

Counting the increase in number of educational institutions, including medical colleges that have gone up from five to 25, the chief minister said the government has made attempts to not only provide quality education, but create an environment for job creation.

“We are in the process of granting government jobs. We have given 100,000 jobs and will give another 50,000. Every month there is a rozgaar divas (employment day) in which 2.5 to 3 lakh are given loans for self-employment and the government provides a guarantee and interest subsidy,” he said.

He referred to the Seekho Kamao (learn and earn) scheme started by the state government as an example of equipping the youth to become entrepreneurs and job creators.

“We will not give unemployment dole. We will pay a stipend of 8-10,000 as people get trained in various sectors. A bird does not give a nest to its young, it gives them wings, unemployment dole is a nest; we are focussing on job creation,” he said.

The government’s claims notwithstanding, the Congress has targeted the state for not being able to fulfil job promises and for irregularities in induction. Over the past few weeks, there have been protests across the state against the alleged irregularities in the exam conducted by the Madhya Pradesh Employees Selection Board in March.

The Congress, which has dubbed the alleged irregularities as a throwback to the Vyapam scam (which involved 13 different exams conducted by Vyapam for selection of medical students and state government employees where the results were rigged) has demanded a judicial or Central Bureau of Investigation probe into alleged irregularities in the recruitment exam for patwaris (revenue officials).

Reacting to allegations, the chief minister said a probe has been ordered. “There was no problem earlier; there were no complaints when 55,000 jobs were given. They (Congress) have raised this issue, it is not good, but sandeh se pare cheez hone chaihye (everything should be without doubt). So, I have decided we will clear doubts and till then no appointments will be made. Such things have happened in so many states, paper leaks, etc,” he said.

Caste factor

The Chouhan government was recently in the eye of a storm after a video showing a BJP worker urinating on a tribal man emerged. It has been assiduously wooing the tribal and the other backward classes. In 2018, the BJP’s electoral setback was attributed largely to the cold shoulder that the party received from the scheduled tribes that are about 21% and together with the scheduled castes account for 37% of the state’s population.

Chouhan, who washed the victim’s feet at his residence, said he was heartbroken by the incident and sought to pay penance. “The incident caused grief and hurt. Nobody can condone that, and I thought I should be the one to pay penance,” he said. To another question on whether government’s response of demolishing the house of the accused Pravesh Shukla has wedged differences between the upper castes and the others, the chief minister categorically dismissed it as a non-issue. “I don’t care about that,” he said.

Schisms between castes was another issue that was flagged for having caused the upset in 2018. Following protests by SCs against changes in the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act (PoA) by the Supreme Court, which were subsequently reversed after the union government brought in an ordinance, violence had erupted in Madhya Pradesh.

The government had then moved in to placate the upper castes by announcing 10% quotas in government jobs and educational institutions for the economically backward.

Anti-incumbency and fatigue

The chief minister is unfazed by the criticism over his government following the Uttar Pradesh model of razing the properties of those suspected to be involved in crimes and said he wears both the sobriquets of “mama (uncle)” and “bulldozer mama” with ease.

The congenial, affable mama, he said, was for the common people, but the tough guy image was imperative to create fear among criminals.

“In 2006, when I became the CM, there were many dacoits in MP. We decided that no dacoits will be allowed here, and by the end of that year, they were either killed or they surrendered,” he said. A similar exercise was carried out to contain naxalism, he said.

“Anyone who is a dusht (evil person) and against humanity has been dealt with in the past and will be in the future too. Even now those who commit crimes against women they get bail and repeat offences, we decided to instill fear in them. So, we take steps to break illegal structures,” he said, defending the government’s move.

On how he will face anti-incumbency and fight the perception of fatigue that has come to be associated with him, Chouhan said local anti-incumbency is always there and to address that the BJP “will assess the situation and drop those against whom there is anti- incumbency.”

As for himself, “I am not worried,” he said. “Wherever I go I hear, mama, mama.”

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