Madhya Pradesh in Gadkari’s team
Posted March 27, 2010on:
At least in the case of Madhya Pradesh, Nitin Gadkari’s star-studded team does not reflect the dynamism the BJP president had promised to inject into the organisation at the Indore conclave of the party’s national council. The new executive does not even give representation to all the regions of the State.
The only striking feature of Gadkari’s exercise is his subtle attempt to put a check on the chief minister’s influence, which was unhindered so far. That the State BJP president, Narendra Singh Tomar, was going to be made general secretary at the national level was in the air for quite some time. But Gadkari has somewhat diminished Tomar’s stature by re-inducting Thavarchand Gehlot as another general secretary. Madhya Pradesh is thus the only State to have two general secretaries of the BJP at the national level. To add to Shivraj Singh Chauhan’s discomfiture, Gehlot has been made a member of the Parliamentary Board, the party’s highest decision-making body.
Tomar, a staunch pro-Thakur leader in the BJP, is virtually Chauhan’s alter ego; the two have been together in all major operations, not necessarily aimed at helping the lot of the poor and the deprived classes. Gehlot is a Dalit leader who could never aspire to be admitted to the chief minister’s inner circle. Chauhan’s administration has been anything but pro-Dalit or pro-tribal, the chief minister’s loud screeds to the contrary notwithstanding. The dalits and the tribals, who had reposed faith in the BJP and helped it to drive out the Congress government of Digvijay Singh in 2003, have gradually been getting disenchanted with the BJP.
In the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP had won in all the four Scheduled Caste constituencies and in four of the five Scheduled Tribes constituencies — and had left only four seats for the Congress out of a total of 29 in the State. In 2009, the BJP could retain only two of the four SC constituencies and only two of the six ST constituencies (increased from five to six during the delimitation). The Congress had increased its overall tally from four to 12, in spite of the party being in utter disarray.
Gehlot was among the defeated SC candidates of the BJP. Satyanarayan Jatiya, another defeated SC leader has been included among the permanent invitees. Nirmala Bhuria, daughter of Dilip Singh Bhuria (a former MP as well as a former chairman of the SC/ST Commission), has been made a member of the party’s national executive. She had lost the Assembly election from Petlawad (ST) in Jhabua district in 2008. She owes her politics more to her father’s standing than to her own “grassroots” level work (at which Gadkari had repeatedly harped at the Indore conclave).
With all that, the representation of Madhya Pradesh in the national executive is heavily, almost entirely, tilted towards the Madhya Bharat region. Tomar, Gehlot, Sushma Swaraj (MP from Vidisha, though she belongs to Haryana), Sumitra Mahajan, Kaptan Singh Solanki, Chaitanya Kashyap, Tanveer Ahmed (a minorities leader from Ujjain), Satyanarayan Jatiya, Maya Singh, the three former chief ministers (Kailash Joshi, Sunderlal Patwa and Babulal Gaur) along with chief minister Chauhan are all from the Madhya Bharat region. The sole representative of the Mahakoshal region is Faggan Singh Kulaste, a tribal leader of Mandla, who had lost the last Lok Sabha election. The Bundelkhand region also has only a nominal presence in Virendra Kumar Khatik, an SC member of Lok Sabha. The Vindhya region stands altogether ignored.
Now all eyes are on who takes the place of Narendra Singh Tomar as the State BJP president. Two are in the forefront, going by the media reports. Prabhat Jha is lobbying hard. Originally hailing from Bihar, he worked at the BJP office in Bhopal when Patwa was the chief minister, more as Patwa’s spy than the spokesman of the party. He was taken to Delhi to look after the party’s publications when the things in Bhopal became hot for him after the Patwa-Lakhiram Agrawal hegemony over the organisation came to an end. In Delhi he ingratiated himself with Lal Krishna Advani who got him into Rajya Sabha from Madhya Pradesh. He was also made a secretary of the BJP. Gadkari has not re-inducted him, giving rise to the speculation in the media in Bhopal (where he has many friends) that it has been done to make him the State party president.
Another strong contender for the post is Anil Madhav Dave, also member of Rajya Sabha. Chauhan’s government had been a bit too much liberal in doling out the public money for his Janabhiyan Parishad, an NGO, and for his Narmada Parikramas. The government had almost allotted to him hundreds of acres of fertile land on the bank of the river Narmada, which the government had fraudulently acquired from the unsuspecting farmers. The game was scuttled by Akhand Pratap Singh, then a minister in the Chauhan government, by creating a big ruckus at the cabinet meeting which was to formally allot the land to Dave.