Shivraj Singh Chouhan takes oath as Madhya Pradesh chief minister

Shivraj Singh Chouhan takes oath as Madhya Pradesh chief minister

This is Shivraj Singh Chouhan fourth term as chief minister.

Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Monday took oath as Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, days after the fall of Kamal Nath-led Congress government.

This is 61-year-old Chouhan’s fourth term as chief minister.

During the political crisis the Congress faced in the state, Chouhan took the lead and continued to attack the government. It was he who filed the petition in the Supreme Court last Monday along with nine other MLAs seeking directions to issue an order to the Speaker of the state assembly to conduct a floor test.

The low-profile Chouhan was picked to lead the BJP after a period of political instability in the state. In 2003, Uma Bharti had led the party to victory in the state but was soon replaced with Babulal Gaur in less than a year. Gaur lasted just over a year before Chouhan took over. He had been a parliamentarian but was a low profile leader. It was a case of the organisation anointing an appropriate leader.

Soon, as Chouhan settled down, the leader in him emerged.

He focused on governance and delivered on infrastructure. A major complaint against Digvijaya Singh’s regime was the condition of roads and power. Madhya Pradesh slowly transformed on both fronts. Primarily an agricultural state, this was Chouhan’s crowning success.

He delivered some of the highest growth rates and the state saw a boom in production. Chouhan positioned himself as ‘Mamaji’, a benevolent, paternal figure looking out for citizens, especially the women and the young. He also delivered a range welfare schemes to different social groups.

All of this helped Chouhan construct a wide social coalition of upper castes, who had traditionally been with the party, Other Backward Classes (OBC) to which Chouhan himself belongs and segments of Dalits and tribals. This helped him win in 2008 and 2013. Factionalism in the Congress, with leaders pulling in different directions, helped Chouhan.

Chouhan – a low key chief minister, close to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), seen as pro-poor and welfarist in his approach and a competent administrator – is now one of BJP’s most senior leaders.