Shivraj’s reign could continue in Bhopal
“If Chouhan is invited to come to Delhi, he will probably ask the party leadership to appoint Narendra Singh Tomar in his place.”
New Delhi: In less than eight months, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan will surpass the record set by his party colleague and former Chhattisgarh CM, Raman Singh, for serving as CM for the longest time of all. CM of BJP that the country has ever seen.
When Singh resigned his post in November 2018, after losing the election, he had been chief minister for 15 years. Chouhan will take this step in February next year.
Chouhan, 62, has already passed the approximately 12-and-a-half-year term of CMship of Narendra Modi when he was CM of Gujarat between 2001 and 2014 and the 10-year term of Vasundhara Raje who was CM of Rajasthan for 10 years in two terms.
Chouhan first became CM in November 2005 after incumbent Babu Lal Gaur, who was temporarily installed in place of Uma Bharti, was dismissed halfway. Chouhan then successfully led the party to victory in the 2008 and 2013 elections before narrowly losing to Congress in the November 2018 elections. Son of a farmer, who often fell asleep hungry as a child, Chouhan was able to take the CM oath again in March 2020 with the help of former Congressman Jyotiradiya Scindia and his 22 MPs who rebelled against Congress. and joined the BJP.
But with the Union Cabinet reshuffle set to take place next month, Madhya Pradesh BJP leaders who owe allegiance to other state BJP leaders believe Raman Singh’s record will continue to hold. According to these party leaders, Chouhan is asked to cede the presidency of the CM to one of his party colleagues and to move to the Center and join the cabinet, an idea to which Chouhan has always been opposed. Even during the VYAPAM scam, when under heavy pressure to move to Delhi, Chouhan successfully resisted the move order.
Among the contenders for Chouhan’s presidency are the current Minister of the Interior and his former protégé Narottam Mishra, Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, party secretary general and longtime rival Kailash Vijayvargiya and chairman of the state party Vishnu Datt Sharma. None of these leaders belong to the OBC, SC, or ST communities which make up about 89% of the state’s population (according to the 2011 census, while OBCs make up about 51%, listed castes make up 16% and Listed tribes constitute 22% of Madhya Pradesh’s total population. Thus, 89% of the state’s residents belong to SC, ST and OBC.)
While Chouhan belongs to the Kirar caste, which is one of the state’s 58 notified CBOs, Mishra and Sharma are Brahmins, Tomar is a Kshatriya, and Vijayvargiya belongs to the Vasihya community.
State party leaders who believe Chouhan should be moved out of state say that due to his grip on the party and the administration due to his long continuous stay at 6, Shyamla Hills, the picturesque CM house overlooking Lake Bhopal, the second generation leadership in the state was unable to develop.
“For a long time, there was only one center of power in the state, and that was Shivraj. There is no doubt that he is our most popular leader with a substantial mass base, but others also need a chance for the greater good of the party. As for the argument that none of the main contenders for the post are from the backward caste, even Digvijaya Singh was not from any backward community, but he was the CM of the state for two consecutive years, he there are other similar examples. Caste consideration has never been an important factor in Madhya Pradesh politics, but in recent years the narrative when it comes to who can replace Shivraj Singh Chouhan has started to revolve around caste ”, a party leader, who commutes between Gwalior, Delhi and Bhopal, said.
A positive aspect of Chouhan ensuring a single center of power is that he also ensured the smooth running of the administration and party affairs in the state.
A seasoned journalist, who has close ties to the central leadership of the RSS, said that all of the above candidates for the chair of the CM, except VD Sharma, do not enjoy the confidence of the Sangh. “Sharma graduated in politics spending time in the sakha and staying in the background. The same is not true for Mishra, Tomar or Vijayvargiya, ”he said.
Party insiders have said that if such a situation arises in which Shivraj Singh Chouhan is invited to come to Delhi, he will likely ask the party leadership to appoint Narendra Singh Tomar in his place. “He trusts Tomar. When the BJP won in 2014, another top state party leader was going to be appointed to cabinet, but Shivraj Chouhan stepped in and ensured that in his place Tomar got the place in Modi’s cabinet. Tomar does not have a great political ambition unlike the others on the list, perhaps that is why Shivraj Chouhan likes him more, ”declared the party leader.
However, Tomar’s name is likely to be opposed tooth and nail by Jyotriaditya Scindia as both belong and fight for political capital in the same region of Gwalior. “Scindia gradually leaves Gwalior and discovers other cities. He has long been engaged in state politics and his ultimate goal is to become the CM. He knows he is young and enjoys the confidence of the Prime Minister and therefore he is taking measured steps, but he is surely going in the right direction. He has become more active in Bhopal, he is making conscious efforts to change his image of inaccessible, ”said a political observer based in Bhopal.
According to a former party spokesperson, Chouhan knows that once he enters the Union cabinet, he will lose the political independence he enjoys in Bhopal. “He has often spoken of his reluctance to move to Delhi, which can be understood if you look at it through his point of view. He is now a very high level leader, he was CM for almost 15 years, five times MP for Lok Sabha, President of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BYJM). He achieved all of this in just 30 years, considering he first entered Lok Sabha in 1991 at the age of 31. Few party leaders have this kind of profile, ”said the party leader.