‘Mohan pehalwan’: A wrestler and an ABVP-RSS man from Mahakal city to helm Madhya Pradesh government

A prominent leader of OBC community, Mohan Yadav is seen as BJP’s response to INDIA coalition, which has two prominent Yadav-led parties like Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh and Rashtriya Janata Dal in Bihar, ahead of 2024 polls

December 11, 2023 11:15 pm | Updated December 12, 2023 01:08 pm IST - Bhopal:

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Mohan Yadav with Outgoing CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, at the latter’s residence in Bhopal on December 11, 2023.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Mohan Yadav with Outgoing CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, at the latter’s residence in Bhopal on December 11, 2023. | Photo Credit: ANI

“Who is Mohan Yadav?” This was the question among hundreds of media persons and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporters gathered outside the party’s Madhya Pradesh headquarters in Bhopal, after the news came out that he has been chosen as the next Chief Minister of the State.

The supporters, who were earlier raising slogans supporting the outgoing Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and other probables for the top post like former Union Minister and newly-elected MLA Prahlad Singh Patel, soon began to celebrate the announcement of the new leader, who will lead the BJP government in the State.

The decision came as a surprise for many who had long been speculated that if Mr. Chouhan is not repeated, the BJP might go with either Mr. Patel, Narendra Singh Tomar, also a former Union Minister and newly-elected MLA, BJP national general secretary and MLA Kailash Vijayvargiya, Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia or the party’s State unit chief V. D. Sharma. Mr. Tomar will be the next Assembly Speaker.

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The BJP’s central leadership, however, came up with a name, which was hardly speculated by any political observer, and did what it has done in many States in the past.

Mr. Yadav himself told the media that he was surprised when his name was proposed during the legislature party meeting.

A BJP leader, however, told The Hindu that the decision had been communicated to Mr. Yadav on Monday morning.

“Tomar ji was initially reluctant on being made the Speaker but was told by the national president [J.P. Nadda] that this was the party’s decision,” the leader said.

OBC face ahead of 2024

A prominent leader of the OBC community, Mr. Yadav is seen as the BJP’s response to the INDIA coalition, which has two prominent Yadav-led parties like the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) in Bihar, ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Various political observers said Mr. Yadav’s face is now expected to benefit the party in the neighbouring States.

Madhya Pradesh itself has nearly 52% population hailing from the OBC communities and the group has majorly supported the saffron party in the Assembly elections held in November, in which the BJP won 163 out of State’s 230 seats.

A vocal supporter of the Hindutva politics, Mr. Yadav hails from Ujjain where the ancient Mahakal temple is situated. His elevation to the top post in the State is also being seen by observers as a push to the BJP’s Hindutva ideology ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

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During the recent election campaign, Mr. Yadav was also seen delivering a few statements which had made controversy in the local media. In one of his speeches, he had said, “You Congressmen and your supporters will not be found anywhere. What is your aukat [status]? You will be buried here only.”

Born on March 25, 1965, Mr. Yadav is a three-term consecutive MLA from Ujjain-Dakshin Assembly constituency, having won from the seat in 2013. In the recent State Assembly elections, he defeated the Congress’s Chetan Yadav by 12,941 votes.

He was currently holding the Higher Education portfolio in Mr. Chouhan’s incumbent government and has also served as the chairperson of the Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation from 2011 to 2013, in the rank of a Cabinet Minister.

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Mr. Yadav also holds various educational degrees, including a B.Sc, an LLB, an M.A., an MBA, and the latest being a P.hD in 2010.

Wrestling and student politics

According to his X bio, Mr. Yadav is the president of the Madhya Pradesh Wrestling Association and the vice-president of the Madhya Pradesh Olympic Association. He has also been a wrestler at the local level himself and is fondly called as “Mohan Pehalwan” by his supporters. A video of him swinging two swords with his both hands has also now gone viral on social media.

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The 58-year-old Chief Minister-designate, who comes from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) background, began his political career in 1982 with student politics as he was elected the joint secretary of the student union of Ujjain’s Madhav Vigyan Mahavidyalay and the president in 1984.

In 1984, he became the Ujjain city secretary of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of the RSS, followed by State secretary of ABVP Madhya Pradesh in 1989-90 and national secretary of the student body in 1991-92.

Mr. Yadav has had a long history of association with the RSS and the ABVP before being inducted into the BJP’s State working committee in 2004. The same year, he was also made chairperson of the Ujjain Development Board, in the capacity of a State Minister.

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He has also been awarded by the President of India in 2011-12 and 2012-13 for promoting tourism in the State.

Having won the Assembly election for the third time in 2018, he was inducted into the Shivraj Cabinet as the Higher Education Minister on July 2, 2020, less than three months after the BJP formed government in the State following the collapse of Kamal Nath-led Congress government.

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