By L.S. Herdenia
BHOPAL: MP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is almost daily announcing new schemes and projects to win over support of the electorate. But to everybody’s surprise, reports reaching Bhopal indicate a sharp decline in the popularity of the ruling party. Besides that, factional feuds within the party are also increasing at a fast rate. The state government’s problems are increasing due to unprecedented rise in the incidents of gang rapes involving girls aged four to seven years. Another issue affecting the government’s prestige is the increasing incidence of assault on government servants, in many cases by people belonging to the ruling party.
The chief minister has announced waiving of electricity bills, which will benefit 1.60 crore families below poverty line. Ahead of the Assembly polls scheduled to be held this year end, the state government waived power bills and dues amounting to Rs. 5,179 crores and announced the implementation of fixed power tariff scheme in a bid to benefit 1.60 crore labourers and below poverty line (BPL) families.
Inaugurating a state level Jankalyan Sambal Yojana in Bhopal, the chief minister said that poor families can avail of electricity connection at a fixed rate of Rs. 200 per month. It also waived off their power dues and announced withdrawal of cases of power theft and illegal connections against them. Chouhan said that camps will be organised in each district in July and August to distribute zero tariff certificates. All cases of power theft and illegal connections will also be withdrawn, he told the beneficiaries.
Chouhan said that consumers availing the flat rate power benefit of Rs. 200 per month will be allowed to use four bulbs, two fans, a cooler and a television. Those who have not applied for new electricity connections will be given connections free of charge, he said.
The scheme of waiving power bills has been criticised by state Congress chief Kamalnath. He said this and other schemes like this are putting the state’s finances in jeopardy and that Chouhan is in the habit of wooing electorate at the cost of state exchequer.
Several other such schemes have been announced by the chief minister but they have failed to impress the voters because of their past experience of non-implementation. In fact, some of the top leaders of the BJP have chosen to describe Chouhan as ‘Ghoshnaveer’ (one who only makes announcement) perhaps because the BJP leaders, including ministers, MPs and MLAs are facing hostile crowds during their visits to various places.
According to media reports, Nand Kumar Chouhan, MP and former president of the state BJP, had to abandon his programme in a village of Khandwa district. Faggan Singh Kulastem, tribal MP, was greeted with angry slogans in his own constituency. Hostile crowds also “welcomed” Anoop Mishra, MP (nephew of Atal Bihari Vajpayee) when he tried to list the achievements of the government. Gyan Singh, MP from Shahdol district, was stopped when he was going to join a Vikas Yatra. Ministers Surendra Patwa and Vishwas Sarang too were greeted by slogan shouting crowds. MLAs Om Prakash Sakhlecha, Rameswar Sharma and Shailendra Jain also faced hostile crowds.
Apart from the protests, reports of factional feud are also coming in. According to reports from Burhanpur, MP Nandkumar Chouhan and Mayor Anil Bhonsle nearly boycotted a programme organised by minister Archana Chitnis.
There were heated exchanges between Bhopal Mayor Alok Sharma and Surjeet Singh Chouhan, Chairman of Bhopal Municipal Corporation, in the presence of staff and the public. The issue related to the grant of permission of construction to certain builders.
While these happenings are adversely affecting the prestige of the ruling party, reports of assaults on public servants are alienating BJP from the government staff. According to a report from Tikamgarh, a woman police officer was attacked by a BJP leader. Her fault was that she tried to pull up Munnedra Singh, chairman of the youth wing of the BJP. He was talking on the mobile while riding a bike, in the process hitting a young boy. When the lady police officer tried to catch him, he lost his cool, caught her by the collar and tore her uniform. Assault on policemen and gherao of police stations, especially by the sand mafia, have become a routine
The unprecedented increase in the number of rapes and gang rapes has attracted nationwide attention. The tragedy is that the victims are girls aged between four and seven. In many cases, the victims come from poor families. Such heinous crimes are increasing despite the fact that Madhya Pradesh government has enacted a law providing for death sentence to those who are found guilty of raping minor girls. There is every reason to believe that criminals are losing the fear of law. (IPA Service)