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Dhruv Narayan Singh
MP Tourism Corporation
Posted: Monday, 10 May 2010 at 11:35 AM

to be
Fiftyish and first-time MLA Dhruv Narayan Singh may not be minister, but he looks ministerial. Which is why there are many who feel it’s only a matter of time before this son of an ex-Congress CM is lobbed a portfolio by chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

Part of the perception is due to the ‘’high company’’ he keeps. Proximity to ex-BJP president Rajnath Singh helped him make the right waves. He circulates well in the power and social circuits. As a sometime cricketer, Mr Singh has effectively used membership of sporting bodies, both cricket and hockey, to further his career. And why not since politicos with no sporting interest misuse it as a tool.

Some say Mr Singh is part of the CM’s inner circle though this may not quite be true. There’s a regular ingress and egress of political busybodies at his work place. His mobile never ceases to ring amid the hurrying and scurrying. The crowd of supplicants and hangers-on successfully create the notion that here’s a leader in the making.

Critics consider him irascible and sitting on a gunpowder keg, a charge the former chucker, once the state’s highest wicket taker, hotly denies (“I am irritable, but seldom angry”). The general impression is that he’s a BJP leader made in the Congress mould given his family antecedents and style of functioning. Though born and partly bred in Rampur Baghelan (Satna), the political base of his father, a pucca Bhopali is what he has always been. Even a councillor in the Bhopal Municipal Corporation between 1994-99.

Chatting with MPBL in his city office, Mr Singh doesn’t mind suggesting that a ministerial position isn’t entirely beyond his reach. “Politics is a changing scenario game. Anything can happen.” This, despite the party policy of not offering a ministerial slot to first time MLAs. Of course, who the CM picks, he guardedly adds, is his prerogative. The seamer denies being part of any coterie or cabal. “I’ve always done the job the party asked me to do ever since joining politics in 1991.” Be that of treasurer or general secretary of the party’s Bhopal district committee.

Mr Singh says he belongs to a Congress family, but always had a BJP bent of mind. Whether this was out of ideological conviction or convenience is a question we dare not ask. Those familiar with the political past of pater Govind Narayan Singh know only too well that it was the Rajmata’s good offices which flung open the BJP’s door to his son. And just before death whisked him away, even dad had crossed over in what was the second time he quit the Congress after the rebellion against the much hated DP Mishra in the late sixties.

Friends of Mr Singh, even those in the Congress, feel that for all his faults, what may stand him in good stead is the largely unsullied image compared to other contemporaries. Though he doesn’t sound overtly passionate about his current job profile, he claims having restored a modicum of discipline in the state Tourism Corporation, improved work culture, and checked runaway costs.

Tourism, he says, was a neglected terrain till 2003 when the BJP came to power. Better roads had improved prospects. But pray why do foreign tourists prefer to skip the MP circuit, we ask. Poor air connectivity, he admits. Targeting the Indian tourist, he says seems the only option. Especially the roadies.

He says the MPTC was keen to adopt the “Rajasthan model”. Private players had been invited to develop the havelis. Two meetings had been conducted, but uncertainty loomed.

Doubts if tourism in any state or country can prosper without an inflow of foreigners continue to nag. But that’s a bouncer the ex-cricketer dodges. He’d rather talk shop.

--- Sudhir Singh
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