In 100 days, Kamal Nath’s performance in Madhya Pradesh impresses supporters and detractors alike

Kamal Nath’s governance is based on performance, rather than hype. His government in MP has fulfilled promises like farm loan waivers, reduced electricity bills, unemployment allowances, etc

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath (PTI)
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath (PTI)
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Chandrakant Naidu

Excessive hype about performance is not part of Kamal Nath’s style of governance. That stands in stark contrast with politics of event management, amply visible under the BJP, which ruled the state for 15 years.

His mantra of target-based performance and galvanised government machinery helped him fulfil most of the 83 promises the party had made to the public. The number of promises made in the manifesto (or vachan patra), was 372. The target for 100 days was fixed at 83.

He started in workmanlike fashion to announce loan waivers for the state farmers within a couple of hours of taking oath of office. Out of the 55 lakh farmers who were marked beneficiaries of the loan waiver, 23 lakh have been covered before the Election Code came into effect. Kamal Nath made it a point to assure the farmers that the process would resume after the polls.

The achievements, besides the farm loan waiver are: slashing of electricity bills to Rs 100 for consumption up to 100 units; enhancing the amount of kanyadaan (financial assistance to the brides of poor families to Rs 51,000), weekly holiday for the policemen; Rs 4,000 stipend to the unemployed after apprenticeship. The reactions to the achievements of the government may be mixed depending on the ideological inclination of the individuals assessing the rule. Consistent fulfilment of all promises without much ado is what distinguishes the current government.

His initiative to invite industries that offer 70 jobs to the sons of soil was welcomed by his admirers and detractors alike.

The Model Code of Conduct for elections has subdued the celebrations of Kamal Nath’s 100 days as chief minister. There have been no formal interviews to mark the occasion nor has the government released any special advertisements to make any claims. As elections for Lok Sabha were shortly due after he took over, the Kamal Nath government anticipated the curbs that came with the announcement. The Chief Minister ensured that the task continued without violating the code and to the satisfaction of beneficiaries.

In fact, Sabka saath, Sabka Vikas was being better realised in the Congress-ruled MP with greater diligence than in the BJP-ruled ones.

The state government also doubled the remuneration for nearly 21,000 temple priests in the state. Tribal artists and artisans started getting new awards named after the tribal revolutionaries. Tribal languages were included in the syllabi.

About 17,000 families have been provided lentils under the poverty alleviation scheme. The other backward classes have been granted an additional 13 per cent reservation in government jobs. Tendu leaves collectors’s wages have been substantially enhanced. Social security schemes are strengthened by announcing higher pension for the aged. Innovative job schemes like promoting tribal musical tradition by training new artists has also been launched.

Nath, who first took over the reins of the state Congress unit, led the party to power against diverse odds.

He had already completed 100 days in office as PCC chief before the elections to the state assembly were announced. Twin charge of the party and government was a burden. But Kamal Nath made light of it. It was perhaps a boon because it facilitated cohesiveness between the party and the government.

Congress was nowhere to be seen being rejuvenated at the ground level after his 100 days as PCC chief. He conceded that the job at hand was to rebuild the organisation, put the party structure in place, right up to the district and block levels. The task was daunting as the party was taking on the BJP that had a stronger organisational cadre and money power.

The party and the central leadership ensured a concerted effort. Election breaks have not broken the party’s resolve to smoothly provide succour to the rural poor.

But with long breaks, it would be unfair to pass judgements on the 100 days’ performance.

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