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BJP made it neck and neck due to Shivraj Singh Chouhan

Shivraj Singh Chouhan went to every constituency almost twice during a four-month campaign.

, ET Bureau|
Dec 12, 2018, 10.10 AM IST
Chouhan, on his part, did try to negate that sentiment during the election campaign by assuring people that no arrests will be made in SC/ST Act cases without proper investigation.
Mamaji, Bye Bye. Such slogans rent the air at the Congress headquarters for BJP’s Chief Minister for nearly 13 years in Madhya Pradesh, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who stayed put inside his residence on Shyamala Hills all day, watching the leads which till late showed that the BJP and the Congress were entangled in a cliffhanger in the key state.

Many in Bhopal’s political circles say the depleted seat count of BJP is due to Chouhan falling victim to public’s anger with central policies like hasty implementation of GST regime, demonestisation or high fuel prices in run up to polls, rather than Chouhan’s own drawbacks.

But the party has nevertheless dropped to around 110 seats from its record high of 165 seats in 2013 under his watch, as per leads available from EC. Chouhan had taken BJP to those heights in the last election, upping the BJP count of 142 seats in the 2009 elections. If Chouhan still manages to take BJP across the mark and become the Chief Minister for a fourth term, he will equal the record of Narendra Modi who was the 4-time CM in Gujarat before becoming the PM. “Nobody really hated Chouhan in the state. People may have been fatigued with his face – but there was no utter hate. Even the present performance of the BJP, in which we have run the Congress so close and are still in a neck-to-neck fight, is primarily due to Chouhan’s existing popularity in the state. The woman voters especially like him,” a senior BJP leader close to the CM told ET.

However, certain comments of Chouhan are also said to have done damage – like the ‘Koi Bhi Mai Ka Laal Aarakshan Khatam Nahi Kar Sakta’ comment of the CM which is said to have angered the uppercastes and OBCs which have been a traditional vote bank of the BJP in past elections. A political leader of the BJP who worked on the campaign told ET that there was a feeling of anger among these castes over the way the SC/ST Act ordinance was brought about by the Centre to negate the Supreme Court judgement. “When it comes to Ram Temple, BJP says we will respect the SC judgement. But in respect of SC/ST Act, the SC’s order was over-turned through an ordinance – people questioned why,” the senior leader said.

Chouhan, on his part, did try to negate that sentiment during the election campaign by assuring people that no arrests will be made in SC/ST Act cases without proper investigation.

“CM tried his best. The seats we won are just due to him,” a leader said.

PM Narendra Modi did only 10 rallies in MP and the campaign stayed centred on Chouhan’s face who toured the entire state extensively during a four-month long campaign and went to every constituency almost twice during the same through his Jan Aashirwaad Yatra and public rallies. A senior BJP leader said the performance of Chouhan as the 3-time CM and the sheer amount of schemes and programmes launched by him would be tough task to emulate for a future CM of the Congress, in the case that an event happens.

The Congress incidentally had attacked the CM on this ground only, calling him ‘GhoshnaVeer’ (a CM of announcements) and lamenting that schemes had not translated on the ground. “The line of development that has been drawn by Chouhan in MP is an enviable challenge for anyone else,” a senior BJP leader said.

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