Why is Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh defending Rajesh Munat?
Why has Raman Singh, instead of seeking an explanation from Munat, defended him? NH spoke to some Raipur-based political observers to understand the reason behind Raman Singh’s defence of Munat
Seeking remand, the day when Chhattisgarh Police produced journalist Vinod Verma in the court in Raipur, two important figures of contemporary Chhattisgarh politics - CM Raman Singh and controversial PWD minister Rajesh Munat - were captured dancing in a programme in the state capital along with the president of the BJP Mahila Morcha, Saroj Pandey.
The programme was organised to set a world record in Sua dance.
Influential Hindi newspaper Rajasthan Patrika published both the items on the front page. The picture of the dancing CM and the PWD minister was seen by many as those in power making a mockery of journalism.
Why has Raman Singh, instead of seeking an explanation from Munat, defended him? We spoke to some Raipur-based journalists and political observers to understand the reason behind Raman Singh’s defence of Munat.
- Hanuman of Raman Singh – Loyalty matters more than anything in the politics. Rajesh Munat’s unquestionable loyalty to Raman Singh is jokingly equated with that of the Hanuman to Lord Ram. Munat has firmly stood with Raman Singh when Brijmohan Agrawal, another senior BJP leader and minister in the Raman Singh cabinet, tried to uproot him. Munat played a significant role and saved Raman Singh’s chair at that point of time.
- Neutraliser to tribal politics – Chhattisgarh, which has a large population of tribals (according to the 2011 Census, tribals make up 31 per cent of the total population), does not have any big tribal leader except for former Congress leader Ajit Jogi. Why? Raipur watchers feel that the politics of the state is divided between tribals and non-tribals in which the non-tribals have dominated the scene. The Brahmin-Thakur-Baniya combination still rules the politics of Chhattisgarh. Munat worked as a powerful neutraliser to tribal politics in favour of Raman Singh. He was instrumental in checking the rise of tribal leaders like Mahesh Gagdha within the BJP.
- Strong man image – “Every good politician needs a bad man to survive in politics. What Shahabuddin was for Lalu, Munat is for Raman Singh,” said a journalist based in Raipur. Munat, who won three consecutive elections from the Raipur West constituency, enjoys considerable clout over the youth cadres of the BJP. If needed, he can bring a lot of muscle power into play too, said another senior journalist.
- Fund raiser of the party – Munat’s ability to raise funds for the party during elections is considered outstanding. His influence over the Baniya community gives him advantages in comparison to others. His success at collecting huge money during elections over the years has made him the blue-eyed boy of the CM, said an analyst.
- Organisational skills - Though considered relatively junior as compared to many others in state politics, Munat rose only because of his proximity to the CM. The CM is said to be fond of his organisational skills. According to a senior journalist, he manages finances for government projects and schemes. His photo with Raman Singh can be seen in all big posters announcing schemes and projects. “If he is investigated, the fire will reach to Raman Singh as well. Raman Singh is not defending Munat, he is defending himself,” said an observer.