Why The Madhya Pradesh Growth Story Is Not Only About Agriculture

Why The Madhya Pradesh Growth Story Is Not Only About AgricultureMadhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. (Arun Mondhe/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
  • Though Chief Minister Chouhan won the love of the people through agriculture reforms, he helped the state secure a leading position in urban development.

    The question is will the multifarious development translate into votes in the next elections?

In 2003 legislative assembly elections of Madhya Pradesh, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won on the issues of BSP – bijli (electricity), sadak (road) and pani (water). BJP’s flag was hoisted over 173 out of 229 seats. Under the leadership of Digvijaya Singh, Congress won only 38 seats, of which one was Raghogarh.

Singh won against the then Vidisha Member of Parliament (MP) Shivraj Singh Chouhan. In a twist of fate, Chouhan, having lost only once in his political career, took over as the chief minister of the state, after two years of his defeat. Before this, Chouhan had been a Member of Legislative Assembly from Budhni in 1990, and was chosen as MP from Vidisha in 1991, 1996, 1998 and 1999. In 2005, he went back to the state and again got elected from Budhni.

Chouhan, who has a rural background, focused only on the BSP issues. He built roads in rural areas, helped the state achieve self-sufficiency in power and showed a ray of hope to the state’s farmers. Although Chouhan lost to Singh in an election, he won like a baazigar.

Chouhan won the faith of the people of the state and successfully created an image of a sensitive chief minister. In 2007, after launching ‘Ladli Lakshmi Yojna’, he was fondly called Mamaji. The most important thing to be noted is that, in 2008, he was able to convert the love of the people into votes and secure 145 seats.

Winning the faith of the people on the basis of agricultural issues became a speciality of Mamaji. In the second innings, he set a separate budget for agriculture. Named after holy river Narmada, Narmadapuram Department helped the state acquire first position in wheat production. In 2011, the state began winning Krishikarman Award and this trend is continuing until this day. In 2013, BJP won for the third consecutive time in the state with 165 seats due to the image of Chouhan and the Narendra Modi wave.

In politics, an image is good until it takes the form of a dogma-bound notion. Today, Chouhan is a politician with expertise in agriculture, but is he getting bound by this image? In 2018 elections, Chouhan has tried his best to get beyond this boundary.

The foremost thing is that, in use of social media, Chouhan has emerged as a pioneering leader. Other chief ministers should take a lesson from him for his efficiency in using Twitter and Facebook. Whether it is about passing a critique over Congress president Rahul Gandhi or live broadcasting of his rallies, Mamaji has proved himself to be a progressive leader. He has proved that being a rural specialist does not mean that a politician can’t make new ideas an integral part of his political life.

Indore and Bhopal are considered to be remarkable cities in central part of the country. In these elections, Mamaji has shown a special commitment towards urban development. In Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, Indore and Bhopal have maintained the top positions since the last two years. Mamaji hasn’t lagged behind in putting out cleanliness as an election issue. During this election campaign, he has been successful in portraying Madhya Pradesh as a leading state in urban development.

Indore and Bhopal have also been gifted a metro before elections. With the help of the Centre, the state has decided to run the metro in both the cities within three years. In fast-growing cities like these, a metro will play a vital role in city planning and also present Mamaji as a progressive chief minister. Mamaji has declared that the Indore super corridor is better than the American roads.

In Bhopal, the Madhya Pradesh government has presented itself as start-up friendly. NITI Aayog Chief Executive Officer Amitabh Kant was invited to an event, where the government initiatives to support entrepreneurs were discussed prominently.

These efforts show that Mamaji is not contesting 2018 elections on agricultural promises alone. He understands that to fulfil the ambitions of youth in the state, service and industry sectors need to be developed. Urban areas have naturally been voting for BJP since long and Mamaji has tried his best not to let Congress intrude into its stronghold.

Whether people of the state have accepted this image of Chouhan or not will be known on 11 December, but growing up from his base idea of focusing on agricultural issues and accepting the diversity show the realism of the chief minister.

Aashish Chandorkar writes on public policy, politics, and current affairs. He is based in Pune. He tweets at @c_aashish.


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