Shivraj Singh Chouhan is battling not only an ‘incumbency fatigue’ but also a double anti-incumbency because he was asked to explain the failures of the Modi government at the Centre
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra invited ridicule in Madhya Pradesh when he claimed that the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government in the state had given an impetus to medical education by opening six private medical colleges.
He had apparently not been briefed that promoters of the six colleges were in jail on various charges of fraud. The Vyapam scam may have been brushed under the carpet but in popular perception the scam lingers on and people complain of a messy higher education programme designed to dupe students and parents and benefit private, fly-by-night operators.
Even Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is finding it difficult to live down his claim that under his stewardship, Madhya Pradesh has come out on top of the erstwhile BIMARU (Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh) states, that the acronym is now confined to BIRU sans Madhya Pradesh. This was similar to the claim he made on a visit to the United States, where he boasted that roads in Madhya Pradesh were better than those in the US.
Such boasts have often boomeranged. The state ranks quite low in economic indicators while ranking very high on several dubious indices. Madhya Pradesh continued to record the highest incidence of crimes against women and rape. “During his 13-year tenure, Chouhan made nearly 13,000 announcements, out of which 9,500 or more have remained unfulfilled. They are only on paper,” says Congress spokesperson KK Mishra.
Narendra Modi also appeared a pale shadow of himself. He addressed 10 election rallies in the state, opposed to 12 which had been originally planned. He barely mentioned Demonetisation, fuel and food prices or GST
The economic survey for the current year shows more than 11 lakh registered unemployed youths and the ruling dispensation managed to provide jobs to less than 1,500 of them. The economic growth rate too came down from 14% to 7.8% during the BJP’s tenure.
While the state has been aggressive in publicising so-called achievements, many of the claims have fallen flat. The Chief Minister did make a lot of song and dance about planting 60 million saplings along the river Narmada. The government announced its plan to seek endorsement for a world record in the Guinness Book of Records. But officials were left red-faced when the Guinness team confronted them with the finding that not even five per cent of the saplings seemed to have survived.
One of the key electoral cards used by Chouhan in 2013 was to complain that the UPA government at the Centre was not giving the state its due. He was also helped by the adverse media the UPA government had drawn on account of 2G scam, coal scam etc. and also because of the aggressive campaigning by Narendra Modi, the party’s prime ministerial candidate.
But this time Chouhan is battling not only ‘incumbency fatigue’ but also a double anti-incumbency as he was asked to explain the failures of the Modi government at the Centre. The liquidity crunch after Demonetisation is still fresh in the minds of people and high fuel prices and the cumbersome implementation of the GST also left the people fuming.
Narendra Modi also appeared a pale shadow of himself. He addressed 10 election rallies in the state, opposed to 12 which had been originally planned. He barely mentioned Demonetisation, fuel and food prices or GST. Indeed, he devoted a substantial part of his speeches to the Congress president, the Nehru-Gandhi family and the Congress party. But blaming the Congress after ruling the state for three consecutive terms does not seem to have cut much ice.
Former Chief Minister Digvijay Singh was quoted as saying the party could win between 126 and 132 seats while the state PCC chief Kamal Nath believes it could hit the 140 mark. The magic figure is 116 in the House of 230.
The state voted on November 28, 2018, and the votes will be counted on December 11, 2018