Bhopal: Hours after taking oath as the 19th Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, the Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led BJP government on Monday won a confidence motion in the Assembly, thus proving its majority in the House. This was done in the absence of the opposition Congress.
The independent, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Samajwadi Party (SP) MLAs, too, voted in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government’s confidence motion.
As far as the numbers are concerned in the Assembly, the BJP has 106 MLAs and Congress 92, while the effective strength of the House has been reduced to 205 after the resignation of 23 MLAs and two seats lying vacant. There are four independent, two BSP and one SP MLAs.
On Tuesday, the State Assembly’s budget session was reconvened with the only agenda being the trust vote sought by Chouhan. During the four-day session, which will see three sittings, the new government will also seek a vote on account later.
On Monday night, Speaker NP Prajapati tendered his resignation from the post while a no-confidence motion that the BJP legislature party had moved was lying with him.
‘No celebration, deal with Corona first’
Incidentally, after two days of not observing social distancing, chief minister Chouhan, after taking charge, went to the Mantralaya and called a meeting of top bureaucrats where he gave instructions on measures to control the outbreak of COVID-19.
“This is not the time to celebrate or burst crackers but to fight off the coronavirus pandemic,” he said.
“You all have made ‘janata curfew’ successful on the call given by the PM. This is a big leap, which will help break spread of coronavirus,” Chouhan said.
It may be noted that people had come out in droves in Indore and some other cities during the “janata curfew’ clapping and clanging plates in appreciation of frontline workers battling the virus, throwing caution to the winds amid the fast spreading virus.
In his very first decision as CM, Chouhan imposed curfew in Bhopal and Jabalpur after cases of corona were reported there. Besides, he announced lockdown of 34 districts out of 55 to curb the virus spread . Till date, five cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Jabalpur and two in Bhopal.
Incidentally, no precautions were taken during the BJP MLAs’ meet, the CM oath-taking ceremony at Raj Bhawan or in the Assembly during the trust vote. MLs could be seen hugging each other, shaking hands, and some MLAs and bureaucrats were even seen without masks.
However, despite lockdown and curfew, the Chouhan government failed to announce any aid to the marginalised sections of the society, including daily wagers who have been worst hit.
RSS’s blue-eyed boy and longest CM of MP
Born to a family of famers in Jait village in Sehore, Chouhan began his political journey as a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) volunteer, and rose to become BJP’s face in MP. Being Chief Minister of the state for over 13 years, he took over again on Monday for the fourth time, a record even his staunch critics envy.
As a five-time Member of Parliament, Chouhan is known for his mass connect, particularly in the rural areas. He represented the Vidisha Lok Sabha seat preceding the BJP icon and one of the founder members of BJP, late Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
After taking over as CM for the first time from late Babulal Gaur in 2005, Chouhan initiated a slew of welfare measures, including for the girl child and women that was replicated by the Centre. His flagship programme Ladli Laxmi Yojna earned him the tag of Mama (maternal uncle).
He later started the Mukhya Mantri Kanyadan Yojna that facilitated mass marriage of girls at government cost and the Mukhya Mantri Teerth Darshan Yojna allowing the elderly to visit holy places across the country by rail on state’s cost.
His bicycle scheme for schoolchildren, Re 1 per kg rice and Rs 2 per kg wheat schemes and the Sambal Yojna offering electricity at Rs 200 per month to poor were among the other popular welfare schemes.
After the loss in the 2018 Assembly election, Chouhan’s clout appeared to be waning as he was not named the leader of opposition in the Assembly but was drafted in the organisation as BJP national general secretary.
But, never wanting to leave Madhya Pradesh politics, he kept his eyes on the state and the developments. He emerged a pivotal figure in the recent political developments and seized the opportunity by being on the right side of former Congress leader, Jyotiraditya Scindia, and other rebel MLAs, leading the charge against the Kamal Nath government and holding on to BJP MLAs.
Congratulating Chouhan, Scindia, who has now joined BJP along with 22 loyalist MLAs and helped in bringing down the Congress government, tweeted: “I will stand with you for the state’s development. I am sure under your leadership, Madhya Pradesh will set new milestones.”
Will never break your trust, Chouhan assures Scindia’s 22 loyalists
Scindia’s support was among the key factors that propelled Shivraj Singh Chouhan to the CM’s chair for a fourth term despite there being other contenders.
Since the beginning of the political turmoil in MP, Chouhan remained in touch with Scindia and his faction, say sources. Chouhan is believed to have met Scindia several times before he called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in full public glare.
After Scindia’s 22 loyalist MLAs joined BJP, their first stop in Bhopal was Chouhan’s home where they had dinner. It was after Scindia congratulated Chouhan on Twitter that the former thanked him and his breakaway group.
“I express my gratitude and am thankful to the 22 former MLAs who have resigned from membership and joined BJP. I will ensure that I meet their expectations. I’ll never break their confidence,” tweeted Chouhan.