Hints at a socialistic tilt to his regime

Shivraj Chouhan, leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party Legislative Party in Madhya Pradesh, was sworn in Chief Minister by Governor Ram Naresh Yadav at Bhopal’s Jamboree Grounds on Saturday. This is Mr. Chouhan’s third term in office. The swearing-in ceremony was attended by most senior BJP leaders and Chief Ministers of BJP-ruled States. Former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu was also present. .

Mr. Chouhan signed four government orders during his address, departing from the constitutional propriety of approval by the Council of Ministers. They included the BJP’s poll promises of giving rice at Re. 1 a kilo to poor families through the public distribution system from January 1, starting the Mukhyamantri Khet Sadak Yojana to build roads for farms, and setting up the Madhyam Varg Aayog and the Vyapar Samvardhan Mandal to address the issues of the middle classes and promote trade. “Our priority is the Beti Bachao Abhiyan [Save the Daughter Campaign]. If you don’t save daughters, where will you get brides from? We must empower women economically, politically and socially,” he said.

Crime statistics of last year showed that 30.9 per cent of foeticides and 21 per cent of infanticides in India took place in Madhya Pradesh, he said.

In a step towards prohibition, as in neighbouring Gujarat, Mr. Chouhan announced that no new alcoholic beverage outlets would be permitted in Madhya Pradesh. “I call upon all social service organisations, swayamsevak organisations and religious leaders to bless this initiative to uplift the common man.” Hinting at a socialistic tilt to his regime, he said that taxes ensured that the exchequer was never short of funds for welfare schemes. “People say this is tax revenue. God gave rivers, mines and the winds to all of us ... I am in favour of social justice and we will tax the places where there is wealth ... No one should sleep hungry or be without a roof. Pattas will be distributed to all the poor who have been living on a piece of land for a long time.”

Mr. Chouhan assured industry of trained manpower and asked it to reserve half the jobs for the locals. “Today everyone talks of ‘Made in China.’ I want ‘Made in MP’s drumbeats to resound all over the world,” he told the audience, which included Anil Ambani, Essar’s Anshuman Ruia, Symbiosis’ Swati Majumdar and Abhay Firodiya of Force Motors.

The Chief Minister lamented that no Congress leader attended the function. He accused the Centre of discrimination and of “attacking the federal structure.” He demanded that the State’s share of Central taxes be raised to at least 50 per cent. Congress MLA and former Leader of the Opposition, Ajay Singh, told The Hindu that no one attended the ceremony as he and other senior leaders were travelling.

BJP sources were “thrilled” with the attendance of Telugu Desam Party chief Chandrababu Naidu and Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray. However, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa did not attend, even though sources claimed that she had been invited.