MP: BJP Banks on Development, Congress Raises Chouhan Govt's Corruption Scams
BJP leaders with Report Card. Source - Party Offices.
Bhopal: August 20 was a sunny Sunday after two rainy days of monsoon, but it wasn't a holiday in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh. The political parties are working overtime to chalk out strategies, finish voter lists, consolidate the party workers and lift their morals.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah presented the party's 20-year report card at Bhopal's Minto Hall in the afternoon and then flew 500 km to Gwalior to address the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) working committee gathering in Gwalior.
As many as 500 meters away from Minto Hall, State Congress President Kamal Nath held two meetings: Chunav Samiti to give the final touch to the first list of candidates and Chunav Abhiyan Samiti to map up the election campaigns.
The grand old party also held a press conference to counter BJP's report card.
Almost 600 km from Bhopal, in Satna, Aam Aadmi Party [AAP] convener Arvind Kejriwal attacked the BJP and the Congress for failing to take the state forward on the path of development they did in Delhi and made a slew of promises in a workers' rally similar to the Delhi elections.
Apart from that, the Congress announcement of the working committee [CWC] also kept the media and politicians on a tightrope in which three Congress leaders from Madhya Pradesh, Digvijay Singh, Kamleshwar Patel and Meenakshi Natarajan, were named.
The BJP's report card move came three days after the Congress on Friday released a "Ghotala sheet" (corruption sheet) on the cases of corruption that have taken place under the 18.6 years of the BJP government in the state.
With a tagline on the leaflet "Ghotala hi Ghotala, Ghotala Seth – 50% Commission Rate," the Congress listed out 254 scams, including the infamous Vyapam scam (Rs 2,000 crore), illegal mining (Rs 50,000 crore), e-tender scam (Rs 3,000 crore), RTO scam (Rs 25,000 crore), liquor scam (Rs 86,000 crore), Mahakal Lok (Rs 100 crore) and electricity scam (Rs 94,000 crore) and others that happened in the BJP regime. The opposition party also announced a phone number on which people can give a missed call if they want to associate themselves with the campaign against the BJP government.
From Bimaru to Developing State, Says Shah
To put forward his government's 20-year report card effectively, Amit Shah started with a 1980s letter from economist Ashish Bose who wrote to the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and used the term 'Bimaru' for Bihar, UP, MP and Rajasthan. He suggested that they are the states dragging down India's growth.
"There was a feeling that nothing could be done in these states. But the BJP government in MP over the last 20 years belied this and laid the foundation for a developed Atma Nirbhar Madhya Pradesh. Those questioning the performance of the BJP government in MP should look at the statistics to find out where the state stood in 2003 when they were ousted from power, and the BJP government came in, and where it is now," Shah said.
After showing three videos which equate Congress' 2003 Madhya Pradesh to BJP's 2023 and inaugurating the 'Garib Kalyan Mahaabhiyan' at Minto Hall in Bhopal with Chief Minister Chouhan, Home Minister Narottam Mishra and state party president VD Sharma, Shah said, "Be it infrastructure, education, health or any other parameter of progress, the BJP government has worked to give access to all the basic amenities to people of all the regions, from Bhopal to every nook and corner of Bundelkhand, Malwa or Chambal."
He compared the budgets and infrastructure of the state with Congress 2003 and BJP's.
"There were only 60,000 km roads then, which is now 5.1 lakh km," he said, adding that all this development is due to the joint efforts of PM Narendra Modi and CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan in the last 10 years.
Referring to the other developmental figures and NITI Aayog's latest report, which says that the 1.3 crore people of the country have been elevated from poverty, he said, "PM Narendra Modi is a 'Garib Kalyan Ka Purodha' [a doyen of poor welfare], and this is the first time when 1.3 crore population of the country has come out of poverty, with 13 lakh [10%] of them from MP itself."
Demanding a report card from Congress, Shah said, "Madhya Pradesh came into existence in 1956 and since then, except for five-six years, Congress ruled the state till 2003, but the state remained Bimaru during their regime, but the BJP government has successfully brought the state out of the Bimaru tag and put it on the path of development by implementing various welfare schemes," he said.
He demanded that the opposition Congress give its report card of ruling the state for nearly 53 years, "There were two dozen cases of corruption against the 15-month Congress government, which is under the scrutiny of the investigating agencies."
When reporters questioned Shah on the chief ministerial face in the upcoming polls, massive debt in the state, reasons for the loss in Himachal and Karnataka and what is preventing the BJP in the centre and the state from taking action against the Congress leaders involved in graft cases, Shah dodged the questions with his wit and coerced.
Bury Your Differences: Shah to BJP Leaders
To boost party workers in Gwalior, Shah recalled that when he was told to take charge of the Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, he thought, how would he guide a team that has won so many elections?
"There was a time when Lord Hanuman forgot how strong he was. Then Jambavan reminded him of his strength. I am here in the role of Jambavan, who came [in Madhya Pradesh -- the oldest unit of the BJP] to remind the MP BJP to recognise your strength, fight back and win elections."
Advising the party leaders to unite before it's too late, Shah cautioned in Gwalior's Working Committee meeting, "Bury your differences, anger and all issues 20 feet under the ground. People have given their lives to create and take this party where it is today. If we lose the elections, we will go back to zero."
Congress hit back on Report Card
The Congress, which has launched a 10-page chargesheet on corruption cases that happened in 18 years of BJP rule on August 18 [Friday], quickly held a press briefing to counter Amit Shah's allegation over the report card.
Congress leaders countering them. Source - Party Offices
Taking a quick jibe, the Congress' senior party leader from Jabalpur and Rajya Sabha MP Vivek Tankha said that Amit Shah is patting the back of CM Chouhan for his work. At the same time, Tankha said, Shah not only refused to make Chouhan the next CM face in the upcoming election but also sidelined him from the party.
"Shah sidelined the failed CM and took charge of the state. He knows that if they announce Chouhan as the next CM, the party will not only lose the election but also give space to factionalism within the party."
Tankha said that despite their tall claims, Madhya Pradesh still comes under the category of a failed state.
"The BJP government hosted a number of investment summits and claimed to have signed MoUs worth crores of dollars. What happened to those MoUs?" he asked.
"Had the MoUs been successful, then cities of Madhya Pradesh would have become IT hubs like Bengaluru and Hyderabad," he said.
He alleged that the Chouhan government had done injustice to everyone.
"The BJP government has failed on many fronts ranging from education, health, power, employment, corruption and others."
He also criticised the government over NGT Court's strong remark about chief secretary Iqbal Singh Bais.
On August 18, hearing a petition, the two-judge bench said, "The Madhya Pradesh's bureaucracy is incompetent." The Court has also fined Bais Rs 5 lakh for submitting an unsigned report.
"When the court is passing such a harsh remark, why did the Chief Minister give two extensions to an incompetent chief secretary? The state didn't have a competent IAS to hold the post," he questioned, targeting CM Chouhan.
After Tankha, former minister and MLA Jitu Patwari attacked the government over farmer and youth issues.
"What happened to the doubling of farmers' income? According to the Union Agriculture Ministry, a farmer earns less than 9000 a month in Madhya Pradesh which -- one of the lowest in the states but farmer suicide cases are on the rise. Why are over 60 lakh farmers out of 82 lakhs in the state under debt? Congress government has waived off 27 lakh farm loans in just 15 months and will waive off the rest."
"The Home Minister sought votes on the name of Kushabhau Thakre, who was the founder of the BJP. But two of his nephews died in the wake of treatment in Indore during COVID, but the ruling party did nothing for the family of the veteran leader," Patwari countered, adding that the government should explain how MP has become infamous for scams like Vyapam.
"He is a lying machine, and BJP's report card is full of lies and half-truths," Patwari said.
Former Finance Minister Tarun Bhanot, who was also on the panel, came down heavily on the BJP referring to the report card.
"They have presented half-truths. When discussing the budget, they should also explain the massive debt and how the state pays 10% interest on the GSDP every year. When they talk about per capita income, they should also explain that each citizen of the state has over Rs 50,000 debts on their heads."
He pointed out, "On June 30, 2023, the government issued a notification asking 41 departments not to disburse the allocated funds without the Finance Department's permission. It means the department did not use funds for the welfare schemes despite the allocation until the revenue department signed it. It shows that the financial condition of the state is not healthy. Besides, the government did not have funds to pay the salaries of many of the employees for the past two-three months."
On the launching of the Ghotala-sheet on Friday, Kamal Nath said, "The Shivraj Singh Chouhan government in Madhya Pradesh has created a world record of scams during its 18 years' rule. The list is too long, and Congress has included some mega scams in the Ghotala sheet. The '50% commission raj' has turned the state into a'Ghotala state,"
"The day is not far when people will search for `scam' on Google, and a photo of Chouhan will appear," quipped Nath, a former chief minister.
When asked why his government did not probe any of these scams while in power between 2018 and 2020, Nath said, "I am not a 2018 model; now I am a 2023 model." He got only 15 months in power, and two-and-a-half months were wasted because of the model code of conduct for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, he said.
[With PTI inputs]
Get the latest reports & analysis with people's perspective on Protests, movements & deep analytical videos, discussions of the current affairs in your Telegram app. Subscribe to NewsClick's Telegram channel & get Real-Time updates on stories, as they get published on our website.