Union Minister of Home Affairs and the second most influential leader in the BJP, Amit Shah, only next to PM Narendra Modi, has perhaps rightly perceived the general voters’ annoyance in Madhya Pradesh against the ruling double engine government, both in the state and the Centre. The issue of their misgovernance has become the food for thought in the general public, and hence Shah has tried to shift the blame on Congress for making Madhya Pradesh a ‘BIMARU’ state.
Elections to all 230 seats in Madhya Pradesh are scheduled to be held on November 17, which has given Amit Shah an opportunity to address election campaign rallies in the state. In his latest rally in Ujjain on October 30, he said, “Congress … ruined Madhya Pradesh and made it a ‘BIMARU’ state.” Addressing the electorate he said, “My appeal to you is that you should not vote to elect an MLA, a minister or a chief minister. Your vote will decide the future of the state and the country. … You have only two alternatives. One is the Congress that ruined Madhya Pradesh … and on the other hand, you have the BJP led by PM Narendra Modiji.”
It should be noted that barring the one year and 97 days rule of Congress during 2018-2020, BJP has been ruling Madhya Pradesh for the last two decades since 2003. Amit Shah has claimed that the BJP has extended development to every corner of the state in the last 18 years. However, the hollowness of his claim and the anger among the electorate have compelled him to realise that the state is still far behind in the development ladder in the country compared to other states. Hence, he has tried to shift the blame on to Congress for it.
PM Narendra Modi has been selling the dream of a fast-track development of the country since 2014. He tried to sell such a dream even in 2019 Lok Sabha election, and now has shifted the goal post to 2047, while never achieving it in reality. Why else should there be any “BIMARU” (literally ‘sickly’ state) in the country, even 18 years of rule in Madhya Pradesh, four years rule at the Centre prior to that and over nine years since 2014?
Development is really a serious political issue in “BIMARU” states, a term that was coined in mid-1980s by an eminent economic analyst Ashish Bose, an acronym for Bihar (included Jharkhand), Madhya Pradesh (included Chhattisgarh), Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh (included Uttarakhand). If we consider the old BIMARU region there are 204 Lok Sabha seats out of which BJP had won 156 seats in the Lok Sabha election 2019 making NDA’s tally at 182. BIMARU regions are politically most sensitive for the future of BJP in general and for PM Narendra Modi in particular, who will be seeking third term in the Lok Sabha election 2024. In this most backward region in the country, not only in terms of economic development but also in terms of human development, the citizens have been suffering the worst of the predicaments, fighting for bare minimum standards of survival.
No wonder, people in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, going to polls in November, are of much importance for the BJP, and the party leaders are trying to shift the blame of making the region sickly (BIMARU) on to the Congress. BJP has been ruling Madhya Pradesh, and is trying its best to retain it power in the midst of severe infighting within. Economic distress and unemployment have made the people’s lives insufferable, and they have no one to blame but the double engine government led by the BJP.
Congress had been the chief ruling political establishment in the past in the 20th century, but in the present Madhya Pradesh in the current 21st century after bifurcation by carving out Chhattisgarh as a separate state in 2000, BJP has been the ruling party. During 2000-2004, BJP was ruling at the Centre. BJP has been ruling the Centre since 2014 while the party has been in power in the state for18 of the 20 years since 2003.
Is BJP not responsible for the neglect an apathy towards this BIMARU state, especially when it has been ruling it for almost the last two decades? Union Minister of Home wants the people to believe that Congress has made the state BIMARU. However, such a brazen shifting of blame tends to further antagonizing the suffering electorate. They have been complaining against the leaders of the present ruling BJP.
The autocratic behaviour of the CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan has further alienated many BJP leaders too. They have been opposing misgovernance under his rule and were irked to such a level that Central BJP leadership’s interventions and efforts of reconciliations among them did not work. Opposition camps in the BJP in the state do not agree to have Chouhan as the CM face once again, while the Central leadership was not in a position to afford to make any leader from the opposition camp as a viable alternative. That is why there is no CM face, and the election is being contested on the idea of collective leadership with PM Narendra Modi as mascot.
Amit Shah’s statement relating to BIMARU state and the blame game he adopted reveal his astute observation of the prevailing anti-incumbency sentiment against the double engine government of BJP. It also indicates the future strategy of the BJP during the Lok Sabha election 2024 to focus its campaigning (whether hardcore Hindutva or blaming Congress for all its ills) on the crucial BIMARU region, the losing of which would mean that the saffron party loses power at the Centre and Modi may not become the Prime Minister of India for the third time. Lack of development has emerged as the central issue in BIMARU region. The outcome in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan would provide an insight into the political prospects of both the BJP and the Congress, and the NDA and the opposition INDIA bloc. (IPA Service)