MP: Defensive BJP on voter-wooing spree from farm sops to ban on porn

Fearing a 14-year-long anti-incumbency backlash from voters in election year, the Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led BJP government in MP has been taking a spree of decisions, from farm sops to banning porn

Photo courtesy:
Photo courtesy:

Kashif Kakvi

It’s election year in Madhya Pradesh, and a defensive ruling Bharatiya Janata Party state government is working overtime to announce sops for workers in the unorganised sector and pacify farmers who are angry with the state government.

The ground situation facing MP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan in this election year is very different from the last one in 2013, when he was spared the winds of anti-incumbency as the nation was kept engrossed by the media going hammer and tongs at the Congress-led UPA government at the centre, giving wall-to-wall coverage to Anna Hazare's ‘India Against Corruption’ campaign. The media was also, at the time, amplifying Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party’s anti-corruption plank in Delhi, which was voting at the same time as Madhya Pradesh. The UPA was also facing anti-incumbency after nearly a decade in power at the centre.

Four years later, there is nothing to stop Shivraj from being tossed around in waves of anti-incumbency sentiment towards BJP’s 15-year rule in MP. The Modi wave of 2014 Lok Sabha elections has long receded, with BJP losing bypoll after bypoll in MP, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Congress victories in recent bypolls of Kolaras and Mungaoli in MP, where the CM personally campaigned, have put him completely on the defensive, for MP is largely a bipolar polity, with the BJP and Congress the dominant parties. The Shivraj-led government is now facing its own set of corruption charges, including the infamous Vyapam scam. The Congress, faction-ridden in the past, has also begun presenting a united face, while BJP leaders including former CM Babulal Gaur have been openly criticising Shivraj.

Besides farmers, the business community is reportedly irked by the cumbersome Goods and Service Tax procedures. The SC/ ST community is smarting with rage over deaths of Dalit protestors in MP during the Bharat Bandh on April 2.

Fearing backlash from the voters in the election year, CM Chouhan has been taking a some strange decisions with an eye on the assembly elections slated for later this year.

Shivrajs spree of favours and sops

  • Accorded Minister of State (MoS) status to five Hindu seers—Narmadanand Maharaj, Hariharanand Maharaj, Computer Baba, Bhayyu Maharaj and Pandit Yogendra Mahant. After this, Computer Baba and Yogendra Mahant junked theer plans to lead the ‘Narmada Ghotala Rath Yatra’ to expose an alleged scam in planting of saplings on the banks of the Narmada river during CM’s ‘Narmada Sewa Yatra’
  • Agreed to long-standing demands to regularise recruitment of of 2.84 lakh contractual teachers under Education Department. This was after, as per media reports, teachers as well as students in some districts swore an oath not to vote for BJP in the upcoming assembly elections
  • Extended the retirement age of about 5 lakh regular state government employees to 62 years from the current 60 years. Congress termed it cheating younger officials and employees from getting promotion.
  • Announced plans to create one lakh jobs in various government departments and abolishing the contractual employment system. This came after data tabled in the state assembly showed 19,226 jobs were created in government departments in 14 years of BJP rule
  • Decided to shut down corrupt district ranking system in the state just two months after the launch of programme, fearing backlash from IAS and IPS officers. BJP also feared that Congress could use this data to corner the government in the upcoming election.
  • The infamous Mandsaur farmers’ agitation where six farmers died from alleged police firing has turned the farmers’ community against the state government. Since then, the state government is engaged in damage control and trying to woo the farmers by announcing a slew of sops. These include: bringing back bonus on wheat over and above the minimum support price (MSP); waiving interest on loans, paying farmers ₹200 bonus on every quintal sold to the government in the last rabi season; Madhya Pradesh had procured more than 67.25 lakh MT wheat in the last season
  • Contemplating ‘ban on porn’ in Madhya Pradesh: MP Home Minister Bhupendra Singh on April 24 said “We think the reason for rising number of child rape and molestation cases is porn. We are contemplating banning porn in Madhya Pradesh, will approach Centre in the matter"

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