Civic poll and governor gloom for CM Chouhan

Since 2003, the BJP had been winning the bulk of the civic bodies in Madhya Pradesh, where Assembly polls are due in November this year.

By: | Updated: 21 Jan 2018 06:01 PM
Madhya Pradesh: Civic poll and governor gloom for CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chaohan (L), MP governor Anandiben Patel (R).

BHOPAL: A spirited performance by the Congress in the civic elections, the choice of governor for the state and corruption charges against several ministers have compounded Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan's problems.

The Congress won the president's post in nine of the 19 nagar palikas that went to polls on January 17, tying with the BJP. The remaining seat was won by an Independent. The results of municipal elections in towns having a population of less than 10 lakh were announced on Saturday.

Of the six nagar palikas, the Congress won four and the BJP two. The BJP, however, salvaged some pride by winning seven nagar palika parishads, two more than the Congress.

Since 2003, the BJP had been winning the bulk of the civic bodies in Madhya Pradesh, where Assembly polls are due in November this year.

In August 2017, the BJP had won 26 of the 43 civic bodies in the state while the Congress had emerged victorious in 14.

In August 2015, the BJP had won all 16 municipal corporations, edging out the Congress in big cities such as Bhopal, Indore, Jabalpur and Gwalior.

The Congress's performance in the latest round of civic elections was even more creditable considering none of its front-ranking state leaders - Digvijaya Singh, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Kamal Nath, Ajay Singh and Arun Yadav - had campaigned extensively.

Chief minister Chouhan, on the other hand, had toured several districts and tehsils, holding public meetings and road shows.

The Congress's Mahesh Bhawar won the nagar palika president's post at Sardarpur in Dhar district, where Chouhan had slapped a security guard during a road show. The chief minister had justified his action, saying he would not allow anyone to come between him and the masses. Footage of Chouhan slapping the guard had drawn widespread criticism.

The Congress dethroned the BJP in Anuppur, Dhar, Dewas and Barwani districts, winning the majority of the seats in the nagar palika parishads.

BJP sources said that on top of the poor showing at the hustings, the appointment of former Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel as Madhya Pradesh governor on Friday could nettle Chouhan further.

Madhya Pradesh has not had a full-time governor since October 2016 when Ram Naresh Yadav retired.

Anandiben, perceived to be close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is expected to strike a rapport with Madhya Pradesh's Patidars, who have been feeling restless since the June 2017 police firing in which eight farmers belonging to the community were killed.

In addition, many cabinet colleagues of Chouhan are facing corruption charges and the absence of a full-time governor had helped the chief minister tide over the crisis.

In Madhya Pradesh, the governor has executive powers in the appointment of vice-chancellors and teachers of state universities and colleges and also in monitoring the management of the institutions. Over the past few months, there have been allegations of state interference, nepotism and corruption in educational institutions.

Chouhan had developed a close rapport with the three previous governors - Rameshwar Thakur, Balram Jhakhar and Yadav. Many in the state BJP do not see that happening between the chief minister and Anandiben.

-The Telegraph Calcutta
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