A growth rate of 10 per cent, agricultural growth rate of 20 per cent and a five-fold rise in per capita income – for Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, these are the highlights of a 15-year report card that would help him win another five years in power in Madhya Pradesh. Amid reports of public anger, the Chief Minister has built his campaign around the achievements of his government. It is not the people, but the Congress, that’s angry with him because he is doing well, he has contended in his numerous campaigns.
“We started from quite a lot further back and have managed to come this far,” the three-time Chief Minister of one of India’s most under-developed states told NDTV’s Prannoy Roy.
The Congress has backed up its claims of anti-incumbency with what they called a series of failures and blunders of the government – including corruption allegations like Vyapam, the firing on farmers at Mandsaur and huge law and order problems.
Asked about the unhappiness of farmers, Mr Chouhan said, “The farmers are not unhappy. We have tried to find better solutions for their problems”.
On law and order, the Chief Minister said Madhya Pradesh was under the grip of dacoits. “That has ended. The SIMI network was wiped out, and the Naxal movement has been kept out of Madhya Pradesh,” he said, adding the state has also passed a very tough law to deal with crimes against women.
But Mr Singh’s list of regrets confirmed one of the biggest allegations of the Congress – the lack of jobs in the state. “I need to increase employment opportunities. And second, the Congress had ruined education in the state… this system has to be strengthened,” Mr Chouhan said.
After 15 years of leadership in the state, it is Mr Chouhan’s face and not Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s that presented as larger than life in BJP election posters. Asked about this discrepancy in a party which projects PM Modi in every election, Mr Chouhan underscored his allegiance to the Prime Minister.
“Narendra Modi is God’s gift to India. He has our complete trust and veneration… The whole country follows him, as do I,” Mr Chouhan said.