Infighting in Madhya Pradesh BJP intensifies; CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan in firing line

Strange and unexpected developments in the ruling BJP have given rise to various speculations including the possibility of change in the leadership of the Madhya Pradesh government

Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan (Photo Courtesy: PTI)
Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan (Photo Courtesy: PTI)

L S Herdenia

Strange and unexpected developments in the ruling BJP have given rise to various speculations including the possibility of change in the leadership of the Madhya Pradesh government.

Speculations about possible change started because a series of meetings took place between various BJP leaders. Such meetings were started by Kailash Vijayavargiya, national general secretary of the BJP, who was the party's in-charge for West Bengal. He camped for three days in Bhopal. Then came Union Minister Prahalad Patel who also met many senior leaders.

In between, Jyotiraditya Scindia reached Bhopal on Wednesday. Prior to his arrival, his followers, mostly those who defected to BJP after leaving Congress, publicly said that the BJP should show respect to their leader. They indirectly demanded that he should get a berth in the Union Cabinet.

During his visit to Bhopal, he had lunch with state BJP president V. D. Sharma. In a surprise move, he also visited RSS headquarters. He also had dinner with senior minister Gopal Bhargava. After meeting various leaders including the Chief Minister, Scindia told media when asked about a seat in the Union Cabinet, "My priority is public service. I follow the footsteps of my father and grandmother. Post or no post but constant service to people is the traditional value of our Scindia family".

Scindia also called on CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan and held discussions for almost an hour. He said the meeting with the CM centred around ‘welfare issues’.

A day prior to Scindia's visit, a shocking and unprecedented incident took place. The incident relates to a heated exchange between ministers during a formal Cabinet meeting which ultimately culminated in a walkout by senior minister Dr. Narottam Mishra. It is learnt that Chouhan remained calm during the melee but Mishra opposed the proposals for additional relief to the pipeline projects worth Rs. 10,369 crore in the Narmada basin.

Mishra's contention was that when the state government was trimming down the budget of every other department, why the largesse on these projects. Secondly, he asked when the dams were not yet constructed, what was the need to hurry with the pipeline project.

Several senior ministers, including Gopal Bhargava, supported Mishra while the others at the meeting urged for passing the proposals unanimously.

The home minister did not budge and said he wanted to register his protest on record for these projects. Thereafter, heated exchanges were reported between the ministers.

Amid the chaos, Mishra left the Cabinet meeting midway and later visited the state BJP headquarters and held closed door meeting with state BJP chief V. D. Sharma. The state Cabinet passed the proposal after he left.

Meanwhile, the Congress claimed the tussle was over the distribution of commission from the contracts of pipelines that are to be laid. "There was a massive clash in the state Cabinet meeting held on Tuesday", said PCC spokesman Narendra Saluja. "The fight was over the division of commission over the pipeline work," Saluja said.

One more development which is regarded as a setback to the Chief Minister relates to the appointment of his Officer on Special Duty (OSD). Tushar Panchal, who was appointed OSD to Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Monday, decided not to accept the responsibility offered to him on Tuesday, after protests from BJP leaders on his old tweets being critical of Modi and Hindutva ideology.

Tushar was hired formally as OSD to CM Chouhan on Monday. Within hours of his appointment, a section of BJP leaders from Bhopal to Delhi opened a front against him. In Delhi, BJP spokesperson Tajinder Bagga shared an old tweet of Tushar, (in which he had criticised Modi) and asked Chouhan if he needed people like him.

Bagga also shared another tweet of Tushar criticising Baba Ramdev. Not only Bagga, in Madhya Pradesh, former minister and senior BJP MLA Ajay Vishnoi also attacked Chouhan. Vishnoi tweeted, "No one can doubt Tushar's ability. Modiji has been hurt several times by his (Tushar's) twitter attacks. Hope Shivrajji has seen those tweets of Tushar.”

Congress leader and former MP CM Kamal Nath's media coordinator Narendra Saluja attached a screenshot of Tushar's tweet critical of Modi and commented, "Shjivraj's love for Modi is quite apparent here".

Tushar's tweets criticising Baba Ramdev, Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev and Shri Shri Ravi Shankar also went viral with people opposing Tushar's appointment. His latest tweet criticizing these babas was made on May 1.

The announcement of the jumbo working committee of the state BJP has also caused deep rift in the party.

(IPA Service)

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