Shivraj Singh Chauhan unhinged
Posted January 30, 2012on:
Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan is feeling uneasy because of the RSS attitude, the rumblings within his own party and the Congress onslaught. The RSS attitude had become clear over two years back at the BJP’s national council conclave at Indore. The newly elected party president Nitin Gadkari had virtually snubbed Chauhan (who was sitting with him on the dais) by ignoring him while praising highly the development works being carried on by Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi in his State. Gadkari had a few words of praise even for Nitish Kumar, only an ally of the BJP, for the good work he was doing in Bihar. Chauhan was even left out of the grouping of top party leaders mentioned by Gadkari towards the close of the three-day conclave.
Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj had then tried to lessen Chauhan’s public humiliation by promptly taking the mike and stating that Gujarat could be a model of good governance but the Madhya Pradesh government was a model of sensitivity (Gujarat good governance ka model ho sakta hai, lekin Madhya Pradesh government samvedansheelta ka model hai).
Later on, State BJP vice-president Raghunandan Sharma created a flutter in the party circles by describing chief minister Chauhan as “ghoshnaveer” (one who makes empty promises). So upset were Chauhan and State BJP president Prabhat Jha that they promptly removed Sharma from the post of vice-president and served a show-cause notice on him seeking his explanation within ten days on his allegedly anti-chief minister utterances. (Jha’s antipathy towards Raghunandan Sharma goes back to the early 1990s when Jha was party PRO virtually watching then chief minister Patwa’s interests and Sharma was the BJP office secretary).
Raghunandan Sharma, a Rajya Sabha member, is not in the habit of talking about party matters in public unless there is a pressing reason for that. More importantly, he has maintained his close association with the RSS. Those who had predicted disciplinary action against him were in for a shock when Sharma replied to the show cause notice without feeling apologetic about his observations.
That Sharma was virtually conveying the RSS sentiments about the chief minister became even more apparent when Chauhan roared at a public function at Indore that his government would include Gita in the school syllabus and dared anyone to oppose it. Chauhan had chosen the opportunity to proclaim his abiding love for Gita at a time when RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat was holding an RSS conclave in a neighbouring district. A few days later Sharma, addressing a public function along with Govindacharya, said that those who talked about Gita and philosophy and preached others about the value-oriented politics were themselves practising valueless politics.
In the midst of Chauhan’s problems with the RSS, the Congress party’s no-confidence motion against his government debated in the winter session of the Assembly exposed the rampant corruption and all-pervading inefficiency in various departments. None of his ministers was able to reply to the specific allegations made in the charge-sheet as well as by Congress members some of whom had come well-prepared. In his reply, Chauhan spoke for over three hours but his harangue was ridiculously devoid of substance (as it always is). Half through his speech in the House, an Opposition woman member urged him to please stop because his ranting was now causing headache.
Chauhan and his colleagues were still assessing the damage caused by the no-confidence motion when they received a jolt from unexpected quarters. Chairman of the State BJP’s disciplinary committee and former Rajya Sabha member Kailash Sarang wrote an article in a local Hindi daily in which he described the Congress party’s no-confidence motion as ringing alarm bells for the BJP in the State.
The allegations levelled against the BJP government during the discussion on the no-confidence motion give an indication of the Congress party’s preparedness for the future which, in fact, should serve as alarm bells for the BJP. Sarang recalls that some of the allegations could not be discussed in the House because of technical reasons (such as belonging to the period of the previous Vidhan Sabha). Those allegations could not be discussed in the House but it was certain that the Congress would take them to the people in the coming days. The Opposition was able to present effectively and aggressively the allegations which were included in the no-confidence motion, Sarang observed.
To rub salt into the wounds of the State BJP leaders, Leader of Opposition Ajay Singh promptly wrote to Kailash Sarang congratulating him for showing courage to publicly discuss the shortcomings in his own party. Ajay Singh took the opportunity to reiterate that the allegations levelled in the no-confidence motion were substantiated with facts and figures but the BJP ministers had, instead of replying to them, resorted to dilatory tactics.