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Sudhir k Singh
Modi shadow in Chouhan win
Posted: Friday, 13 Dec 2013 at 6:52 PM
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With the BJP’s third successive smashing victory in the 2013 assembly poll, Madhya Pradesh seems well set to becoming another Gujarat, ie. a state in which saffron has struck deep root. This was the party’s second win with Shivraj Singh Chouhan in the driver’s seat. But lest it be forgotten, the BJP had swept to power in 2003 with Uma Bharti as leader. Her individual appeal as a sadhvi and nationalist was a boon. Chouhan owes a lot to her though the two can still barely suffer the sight of the other. Ten years ago the man who came to be known as “paoN paoN wale bhaiyya” (man on foot) lacked the political stature to give his party a flying start. 

Though Chouhan can now justifiably claim a sizeable share of the credit for the latest win, only the politically innocent or biased would deny that the Modi factor contributed much to the party’s rich haul of 165 of the 230 seats up for grabs, a sharp increase of 22 from 2008, and barely eight less than the record 2003 tally of 173. It is quite another matter that victories in successive by-polls between 2008-13 had further fortified the BJP’s strength in the House, making it a nice and round 150.

Three things contributed to the spectacular BJP win: Chouhan’s humble image coupled with his family friendly schemes like Ladli Laxmi Yojana, 10 per cent agricultural growth, and the endless UPA scams. Modi’s national appeal was the icing on the cake. Admittedly, the Modi factor was more a strong undercurrent than a mighty wave in MP in sharp contrast to Rajasthan where chief minister-elect Vasundhara Raja Scindia personally acknowledged the signal role of the party’s prime ministerial candidate in the landslide. Nevertheless a tally of 165 would have been virtually impossible to get without the geometrical progression in the popularity of the Gujarat ‘hriday samrat’.

Together these factors proved more than enough to circumvent anti-incumbency. Though there was considerable anger with BJP MLAs and ministers, Chouhan’s humane image saved the day. Not surprisingly as many as 11 ministers lost. Even the state’s 7-8 per cent Muslims who normally never vote BJP put their trust in Chouhan. 

The Congress has entirely itself to blame for its failure to put up a more respectable performance. Reduced to a rump of 37 in 2003, it’s tally at 57 was only slightly better, and much worse than 73 in 2008. Part of the blame could squarely be put at the door of the much  despised high command which refused to announce its candidate for CM till the eleventh hour. There is little which even a bright spark like Jyotiraditya Scindia could have done with a deeply divided house in which AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh was chipping away at the ground beneath his feet.

Not surprisingly, the Congress was trounced in every nook and cranny of the state barring the Vindhya region where its tally shot up from 2 to 11. Of the total 26 seats in the belt, the BJP still managed to hold on to 16. Everywhere else it was virtually swept away. THE END

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