Posts Tagged ‘Prabhat Jha’
On the eve of the election of Madhya Pradesh BJP president towards the close of 2012, Prabhat Jha was reassured by chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan of a second term and asked to leave everything to him. The next day, Jha could only fret and fume as the entire party under the guidance of Chouhan supported Narendra Singh Tomar for the post.
Later at the delegates’ meeting held to felicitate the new incumbent and bid farewell to the outgoing party chief, Jha could no longer contain his pique and all but called Chouhan names, describing him artful to the core. Jha said that Chouhan held with him the “remote” of both the government and the organisation. As Atal Behari Vajpayee kept his cards close to his chest at the time of the Pokharan explosion, so did Chouhan about getting Tomar elected in his (Jha’s) place as the party president, he added. Chouhan sat on the dais grinning, as the central observers, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Ananth Kumar, looked a bit uncomfortable.
It is a pity that Jha cognised only too late the qualities of Chouhan’s head and heart. At the helm of affairs since November 2005, Chouhan has displayed little ability or even inclination for providing a reasonably good administration to the State; he has, nevertheless, emerged as the ace player in the game of politics inasmuch as he is now being considered, at least in the media, as Narendra Modi’s competitor for the top position. His manipulations in politics and bureaucracy would seem legendary.
With a permanent grin on his face and his hands always half-folded, this mild-mannered, soft-spoken, self-effacing foot soldier of the BJP patiently waited for his time. His opportunity came when Uma Bharti wanted back the post of chief minister which she had relinquished in the wake of the non-bailable warrant issued against her by a Hubli court. Babulal Gaur, who had stepped into Uma’s shoes, was not inclined to resign. The BJP leadership faced a veritable crisis as Uma threatened to march to the Raj Bhavan with her supporters in the BJP legislature party to demand what she considered her due.
Chouhan, then president of the State BJP, volunteered to mediate with the high command by keeping the hopes of both, Uma Bharti and Babulal Gaur, alive. He did persuade the high command for a change, but only in his own favour. Both Gaur and Bharti were dumbstruck when they came to know of this but by then it was too late. Then BJP vice-president Rajnath Singh and general secretaries Arun Jaitley and Pramod Mahajan were deputed to oversee the change. When Chouhan’s name was proposed as the new leader at the legislature party meeting, Gaur took it stoically but Uma could not. She, along with her supporters, walked out of the meeting, making all sorts of allegations against BJP leaders. She eventually formed her Bharatiya Jana Shakti party. Describing the formation of the BJP government in 2003 as her own baby, she always referred to Chouhan as “Bacha-Chor” (child-lifter). That is, till she returned to the BJP.
Having hoodwinked Uma Bharti and Babulal Gaur to become CM and harnessed the bureaucracy through devious means, Chouhan now paid attention to the police department which was headed by Swaraj Puri, considered an Arjun Singh man. In any case, Chouhan did not trust him and wanted there also a “Sahni”. Again the opportunity came when an unknown citizen of Indore went to the court with a complaint that Swaraj Puri had got his son fraudulently admitted to a prestigious engineering college in the NRI quota. The court directed the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) to hold an “inquiry” into the allegation and submit the report to the court. The EOW was then headed by A R Pawar who enjoyed the confidence of the Sangh Parivar and, naturally, of Chouhan also. Apparently at a nod from the chief minister, Pawar hastily registered an FIR against Puri without waiting for the court direction. In no time was Puri removed and Pawar appointed director-general of police in his place. Puri has since retired as D-G of Home Guards. The fraud case against him was dismissed by the court as without substance.
Pawar served Chouhan faithfully and the Sangh Parivar (Bajrang Dal, ABVP, etc.) activists had a field day in the State, thrashing even police personnel if they ever tried to check their socially not-so-acceptable activities. Pawar’s retirement was due when a code of conduct for the 2008 Assembly elections would be in force and the Election Commission would insist on a panel of names being submitted to it for selection of Pawar’s successor. To avoid that situation, Chouhan shifted Pawar to another department just before the code of conduct was to be enforced and appointed S K Raut as the director-general of police in his place. Raut, it may be recalled, was among the first to reach the scene of murder of RTI activist Shehla Masood and mess up with the evidence.
When Prabhat Jha was “elected” president of the State BJP in May 2010, he was still seeing Chouhan as the same humble party worker who used to hang around the party office wringing his hands; Jha was then PRO at the BJP headquarters and was wont to flaunt his proximity to then chief minister Sunderlal Patwa and the (late) party patriarch Kushabhau Thakre. Jha, as the party president, would often make the announcement on behalf of the chief minister causing considerable embarrassment to Chouhan. But Chauhan never showed it and patiently waited for his opportunity which came when the election of the State BJP president became due.