By L S Herdenia
BHOPAL: Strange and unexpected developments in the ruling BJP have given rise to various speculation including the possibility of change in the leadership of the Madhya Pradesh government. In order to refute such rumours Home Minister and government designated spokesman Dr. Narottam Mishra issued a brief statement saying “Shivraj Singh Chouhan was our Chief Minister, is our Chief Minister and will continue as our Chief Minister.”
Speculations about possible change started because a series of meetings took place between various BJP leaders. Such meetings were started by Kailash Vijayavargiya, national general secretary of the BJP. He was party’s in-charge for West Bengal. He camped for three days in Bhopal. Then came Union Minister Prahalad Patel who also met many senior leaders.
In between Jyotiraditya Scindia reached Bhopal on Wednesday. Prior to his arrival, his followers, mostly who defected to BJP after leaving Congress, publicly said that the BJP should show respect to their leader. They indirectly demanded that he should get a berth in the Union Cabinet. During his visit to Bhopal he had lunch with state BJP President V. D. Sharma. In a surprise move he visited RSS headquarters. He also had dinner with senior Minister Gopal Bhargava. After meeting various leaders including Chief Minister, Scindia told media “My priority is public service. I follow the footsteps of my father and grandmother. Post or no post but constant service to people is the traditional value of our Scindia family” the former Union Minister said, when asked about a seat in the Union Cabinet.
Scindia reached the state capital in the afternoon of Wednesday. He discussed the ongoing relief works amid the Covid-19 crisis. He also called on CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan at the CM House and held discussions for almost an hour before leaving for the RSS office ‘Samidha’ to meet regional head Deepak Vaspute. He said the meeting with the CM centred around welfare issues.
“I am meeting everyone on the basis of family relationship and also reviewing the Covid situation. I appreciate the efforts of the government as the positivity rate has declined across the state. We are also preparing for the next wave and focusing on vaccination”, said Scindia.
“In BJP, there are no individuals, no groups. Only one organisation works. I belong to all and all are mine. I would like to congratulate everyone included in the working committee. We are together and this is a family. We will keep the flag of the country and the 8 crore people of MP raised on the basis of public service and development”. Scindia said.
A day prior to Scindia’s visit, a shocking but unprecedented incident took place. The incident relates to heated exchange between Ministers during formal cabinet meeting which ultimately culminated in the walkout by senior Minister Dr. Narottam Mishra. It is learnt that Chouhan remained calm during the melee but Mishra opposed the proposals for additional relief to the pipeline projects worth Rs. 10,369 crore in the Narmada basin.
Mishra’s contention was that when the state government was trimming down the budget of every other departments, why the largeness on these projects. Secondly, he asked when the dams were not yet constructed, what was the need to hurry with the pipeline project.
Several senior ministers, including Gopal Bhargava supported Mishra while the others at the meet urged for passing the proposals unanimously.
The home minister did not budge and said he wanted to register his protest on record for these projects. Thereafter heated exchanges were reported between the ministers.
Amid the chaos, Mishra left the cabinet meeting midway and later visited the state BJP headquarters and held closed door meeting with state BJP chief V. D. Sharma. The state cabinet passed the proposal after he left.
Meanwhile, the Congress claimed the tussle was over the distribution of commission from the contracts of pipelines that are to be laid.
“There was a massive clash in the state cabinet meeting held on Tuesday”, said PCC spokesman Narendra Saluja. “The fight was over the division of commission over the pipeline work”, Saluja said.
One more development which is regarded as a setback to Chief Minister relates to the appointment of his officer on special duty. Tushar Panchal, who was appointed OSD (officer on Special Duty) to Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Monday, decided not to accept the responsibility offered to him on Tuesday, after protests from BJP leaders on his old tweets being critical of Modi and Hindutva ideology.
Tushar was hired formally as OSD to CM Chouhan this Monday. Within hours of his appointment, a section of BJP leaders from Bhopal to Delhi opened a front against him. In Delhi BJP spokesperson Tejinder Bagga shared an old tweet of Tushar (in which he had ctritised Modi) and asked Chouhan if he needed people like him.
Bagga also shared another tweet of Tushar criticising Baba Ramdev. Not only Bagga, in Madhya Pradesh former minister and senior BJP MLA Ajay Vishnoi also attacked Chouhan. Vishnoi tweeted “no one can doubt Tushar’s ability. Modiji has been hurt several times by his (Tushar’s) twitter attacks. Hope Shivrajji has seen those tweets of Tushar.
A section of BJP and Congress leaders portrayed the development as Chouhan opening up a front against Modi and started comparing him to UP CM Yogi.
Congress was quick to grab the opportunity. Kamal Nath’s media coordinator Narendra Saluja attached the screenshot of Tushar’s tweet critical of Modi and commented “Shjivraj’s love for Modi is quite apparent here”.
Tushar’s tweet criticising Baba Ramndev, Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev and Shri Shri Ravi Shankar also went viral with people opposing Tushar’s appointment. Latest tweet criticizing Babas was on May 1.
The announcement of the jumbo working committee of the state BJP has also caused deep rift in the party. (IPA Service)