On the eve of his “Jan Ashirwad Yatra” (People’s Blessing March), scheduled to start from Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan said that he would be seeking direct feedback from voters on his schemes. These inputs, he added, would be incorporated into the vision he has for the next five years — during which he expects to be Chief Minister for a third time.
The yatra, which will see the chief minister travel in a motorized chariot through all 230 assembly seats, will conclude in Bhopal on Sepetmber 25. A Karyakarta Mahakumbh or workers congregation will be held on the day, which is Jan Sangh ideologue Deendayal Upadhyaya's 97th birth anniversary. On Monday the yatra is supposed to be flagged off by Leader of Oppostion in Lok Sabha and Vidisha MP Sushma Swaraj. Mr. Chouhan said that other senior leaders, including Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and senior BJP leader L.K. Advani, will attend the yatra later. The yatra is being oragnised by the chief minister's bete noire — Rajya Sabha MP Prabhat Jha. Its launch coincides with the Mahakala Procession in Ujjain, which draws huge crowds.
“I will spend four days a week on the yatra, and the rest in Bhopal. Government work may be done along side the yatra. For example, I will perform shilanyas (foundation stone laying) for public works costing Rs 300 crores in Ujjain. But this will not be part of the yatra,” said Mr. Chouhan. He added that he will continue the tradition of collecting contributions from supporters after they smear vermilion on his forehead. “Ideally there should be state funding of elections but until that happens, we must collect funds from supporters.”
Mr. Chouhan attacked the opposition Congress for allegedly not being able to debate with him on development. “It is a strategy of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi that since you can't attack BJP governments on their works, make personal attacks. I asked people not to call the prime minister an underachiever. I said let's focus on relief, when the Uttarakhand CM was being targeted. The Congress is attacking me because I am the biggest thorn for them.”
A BJP MLA told The Hindu that during the yatra, the Mr. Chouhan will project himself as a man of the masses and will extensively interact with the public. “After the yatra our cadre should have no doubt that the CM is accessible,” he said.
Acid sale regulation
Mr. Chouhan said that he had met with the DGP and Chief Secretary in the morning to discuss the regulations on the sale of acid. Since Saturday evening two acid attacks have been reported in the state, one of which has caused the death of a woman in Morena. The Chief Minister said that acid attack cases would be registered as attempts to murder.
Entertainment Tax waiver
He added that the entertainment tax would be waived off for the Hindi film Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, which is a biopic of acclaimed sprinter Milkha Singh. “After a long time has a film been made that depicts patriotism and sacrifice,” commented Mr. Chouhan. Madhya Pradesh would be the second state to give a tax exemption for the film, after Maharashtra.