The fourth time CM faces a critical battle with Corona in MP
Bhopal: For the people of Madhya Pradesh when 61-year-old Shivraj Singh Chouhan was sworn in as the 19th chief minister of Madhya Pradesh it seemed they had seen it coming.
After a fierce battle to grapple the reins of power, everyone’s favourite Mama Ji was back at the helm and the residents of Madhya Pradesh accepted him without a murmur and for them it seemed every thing is back on track.
Although the time when Chouhan joined the CM post was unfavourable as it was not a few months ago. Like the rest of the country his state was too battling with COVID-19 pandemic, which even curtailed his swearing in ceremony.
Immediately after joining the office, he took a meeting with top officials of the state in late night to review the current situation of the pandemic and its preparations. Since then he has been working without a cabinet running the whole show solo, meeting up people, walking up to them and speaking to them directly.
For the past a week Chouhan has been functioning without a council of ministers, which has been his style as he takes his own time to decide on ministers and portfolios, his previous record reflects.
However, the shortage of ministers has not shortened the working of the chief minister where he has been constantly handling the affairs of the state with his lobby of bureaucrats. In COVID -19 when lockdown has deserted the streets and offices the fifth floor of state secretariat the “Vallabh Bhawan” remains abuzz with top IAS and IPS officers tackling the concerns under the chair of Chouhan.
People connect has remained his power which the former CM and Congress leader Kamal Nath was often criticised for. For example, even when the COVID-19 lockdown in effect Chouhan decided to roam around the state capital asking people there well being and needs.
People were caught by surprise in areas Bittan Market, Kolar, Shahpura, Buddhawara Chouraha and Imami gate seeing their CM wearing masks and gloves and asking them about well-being, while following social distancing.
Carrying his iconic slogan, he told girls in a hostel
“You do not have to worry, for that your Mama is here.”
Since then, he has been constantly speaking to his citizens through social media platforms including Facebook lives almost every day.
On Wednesday he announced that all Below Poverty Line (BPL) families would be provided a month’s ration free, in view of the lockdown. He said ₹1,000 would be provided to laborers in unorganised sector as support through the State Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board.
In his third term as CM in his concluding days of office Chouhan had announced a blanket scheme known as “SAMBAL” that covered benefits for all crossing the boundaries of caste, creed and religion.
He also announced ₹2,000 for two months to each Saharia, Baiga and Bharia family. Moreover, old age and social security pensioners would receive an advance amount of ₹1,200 for two months.
As schools are closed, some 65.91 lakh students do not get mid-day meals at school. Therefore, Rs 155 would be transferred into the bank account of each primary schools’ student and Rs 232 in the account of each middle-school student, adding up to aid in total of Rs 156.15 crore, he said.
He has also directed that public distribution system (PDS) shops should distribute the food grain ration of April, he said. Uninterrupted supply of fertilizers and seeds will be ensured for farmers, the chief minister said.
When BJP lost assembly elections in 2018 and Congress came to power the BJP may have lost but Shivraj did not. The close margin of vote split between Congress and BJP in 2018 election was something attributed to people connect and mass appeal of Chouhan.
Chouhan has gained popularity among his voters and still continues to do, unlike his other counterparts in Chhattisgarh or Rajasthan. Raman Singh in Chhattisgarh and Vasundhara Raje in Rajasthan — both of whom also lost in the 2018 December polls, Chouhan had little to worry about. He did not lose because he became unpopular, he lost merely because of this fatigue factor – rather than voter ire – with a three-term government.
With a leader of his stature that ended the confusion in top leadership of BJP to decide over the name of CM when Kamal Nath resigned on March 20. Promising to change the governance in Madhya Pradesh, similar to what Kamal Nath had said about changing the governance, Chouhan comes with a lot of experience and many rough seasons under his belt.
He had to go through an intense test of dealing with masses and calamities in the Simhastha festival of 2016 Ujjain where more than 5 crore people had gathered for the holy bath of once in 12 years. The month-long festival was struck with natural calamities, and the arrangement was of massive scale, which led to the culmination of the festival on a sound note.
After resigning in 2018, Chouhan had said,
“Madhya Pradesh is my temple and the masses are my God. The doors of my house are always open for the citizen of the state, and they can come to me without any hesitation. I’ll be helping them as usual.”
He now has ample opportunity to make good on these lofty sentiments.