The reign of Shivraj: On Chouhan's fourth term as CM

The BJP government will have to manage the changed political dynamics in M.P.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh on Monday night, proved his majority in the Assembly on Tuesday. This is his fourth term as Chief Minister. After three consecutive terms, he had lost the election in 2018. He mustered the support of 112 MLAs for the trust vote which was hurriedly organised overnight and was missed by 92 Congress MLAs and two independents. Two BSP MLAs, one of the SP, and two independents who were earlier supporting the Congress government that collapsed last week, voted in favour of the trust vote. Mr. Chouhan has said his government’s immediate focus would be in tackling the coronavirus crisis that is testing the capacity and will of the State. He has also asked all MLAs to leave for their constituencies and take the lead in managing the crisis. The downfall of the Congress government was engineered by the resignation of 22 of its MLAs. These and two more seats in the 230-strong State Assembly remain vacant. The actual strength of the government will be tested in and after the by-elections to these seats. It is a different question whether the Congress can regroup itself and challenge the government.

With the return of the BJP government in M.P., the political turn in the State in 2018 has been proven short-lived. The party had faced a setback in M.P., Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh where it lost power to the Congress before bouncing back in the 2019 Lok Sabha election. The Congress could not sustain its gains, and has now ended up losing a government. But it goes beyond that and shows the party as a weak challenger to the BJP. To begin with, the Congress victory was nebulous and narrow in M.P., and its fortunes were compromised by debilitating factionalism within. It cannot be a viable political alternative to the BJP unless it gets imaginative in building sustainable and strong social and class coalitions. In places where it has done so, the party has been effective in elections and governance, including in neighbouring Chhattisgarh. The exit of Jyotiraditya Scindia, who has since joined the BJP, could actually be used as an opportunity by the Congress to promote better rooted leaders from diverse social backgrounds, stepping beyond dilapidating feudal fortresses. The BJP in the State will also need to achieve a new equilibrium, now disrupted with the entry of Mr. Scindia. Mr. Chouhan has emerged as a strong leader, but there are others waiting in the wings too. The change of guard in M.P. will unsettle existing equations in both the parties, beyond State boundaries.

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Printable version | May 28, 2020 10:18:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/the-reign-of-shivraj-on-chouhans-fourth-term-as-cm/article31156451.ece

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