Union home minister Amit Shah, while in Bhopal on August 20, did not explicitly state that the incumbent Shivraj Singh Chouhan would again be the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh if the BJP wins the parliamentary elections. “Shivraj Singh Chouhan is currently the chief minister. Why are you trying to do party work? It’s our party’s job, we’ll decide [the next CM],” Shah told the media when asked if Chouhan would be prime minister again.
“My request is to tell everyone all the work that has been done under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. If Congress has done something, tell people about it. Let development be the agenda of this election,” said Shah.
While the Shah downplays the issue of the prime minister, political watchers see it as the biggest issue in the BJP. “If the party considered Shivraj Chouhan as a strong candidate that would attract votes, they would have declared him a CM candidate. The fact that Amit Shah did not do so shows that the BJP does not want to,” a BJP official stated.
Shah has been in Bhopal to release BJP government ‘report cards’ for the past 18 years. The BJP has been in power in the MP since December 2003, with the exception of a short 15-month Parliamentary rule following the 2018 parliamentary elections. A coup by Jyotiraditya Scindia and his loyalists in 2020 brought the Kamal Nath government to an early fall, returning Chouhan to the ministerial seat.
Last week, the BJP released its first list of 39 candidates for the parliamentary elections, scheduled for November. The list includes several kiths and relatives of party leaders. When asked if the BJP went against its stated position of being opposed to dynastic politics, Shah alluded to dynastic politics as one family’s control of a party and cited Congress, Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) and Samajwadi Party as an example. “If we have given tickets to one or two people (kith and relatives of BJP leaders), please don’t take it as dynastic politics,” he said.
Regarding the announcements ahead of the Chouhan government poll, such as subsidies for women under the Ladli Behna Program, their impact on state finances and whether it is free money, Shah said announcements were made much before the election. “We made tap water and toilets available to every home long before the 2018 election. Even the poor understand what a free gift is. Our work will raise farmers’ incomes,” he said.
Shah accused Congress of giving class coloration in the upcoming elections and claimed this is the reason why the BJP failed in the 2018 polls. When asked why the BJP government at the Center did not act. Although they accused him of fraud several times, Shah said that any such action should not be seen as political revenge. “Investigations are underway, this takes time,” he said, adding more softly: “If this question was sponsored by Kamal Nath, you could tell me. that the speed of the investigation could be increased after that.”
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Aditya Mohan Wig
August 21, 2023