The incumbent CM of MP Shivraj Singh Chouhan is ruling the state for the last 15 years. Being in power for 15 years has several advantages but more importantly, has difficult challenges. One of the main challenges is to remain in power in the wake of anti-incumbency and the desire of the electorate for ‘change for its own sake’ not necessarily on issue or agenda and a moment like this is the real litmus test of a master politician. A master politician chooses his target carefully. He never falls into the trap of the opposition. He astutely subdues the entire opposition and comes out with flying color. In such a difficult situation, a master has to be both a lion and a fox. As Machiavelli has said, “The lion cannot protect himself from traps, and the fox cannot defend himself from wolves. One must, therefore, be a fox to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten wolves.”
A seasoned and experienced politician like Shivraj Singh Chouhan has both the qualities of fox and lion. He knows his enemies very well and he also knows whom to attack, when to attack, and how to attack. As Sun Tzu observed in ‘The Art of War’, “So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong, and strike at what is weak.” Shivraj Singh Chouhan is doing exactly that. At present, he is attacking the weakest soldier of the opposition that is former MP Chief Minister Digvijay Singh. Recently, in a press conference in Satna, the incumbent MP CM referred fading leader of Congress, Digvijay Singh as anti-national. It rattled Digvijay Singh so much that he carried out a march from Bhopal’s Congress office to TT Nagar police station in Bhopal. Inside the police station, frustrated Digvijay Singh said, “I’m here to offer myself for arrest. If the chief minister thinks that I’m anti-national, he should get me arrested immediately.” He further added, “The fact, however, is that Shivraj Singh and his family are deeply rooted in scams like Vyapam and the people of the state will throw him out.” Interestingly, Kamal Nath was also present in the march.
Shivraj Singh Chouhan also took a jibe at Digvijay Singh and Kamal Nnath on Twitter.
हमारे कांग्रेसी मित्रों का क्या कहना!
पहलें दिग्विजय जी पाकिस्तान के पुल को भोपाल ले आए, और अब कमलनाथ जी बांग्लादेश की सड़क को मध्यप्रदेश ले आए। https://t.co/8GKuRmUfE1
— ShivrajSingh Chouhan (@ChouhanShivraj) October 15, 2018
In Madhya Pradesh, the Congress is divided into three factions- Jyotiraditya Scindia, Digvijay, and Kamal Nath. Although Digvijay Singh has been steadily side-lined for the last few months, Kamal Nath was made in-charge of the MP election campaign. Recently, according to ABP news, Digvijay Singh, Janardan Dwivedi, Kamal Nath, Sushilkumar Shinde, Mohan Prakash, C P Joshi were dropped from Congress Working Committee (CWC).
However, the main fight for Congress’ CM candidate seems to be between the state president Kamal Nath and campaign committee chairman Jyotiraditya Scindia. Kamal Nath has regional influence, is famous among old guards of the party, have more political experience than Scindia. Another factor which works in Scindia’s advantage is his close proximity with the Congress President Rahul Gandhi. The current front-runner for the top executive of the state is arguably Scindia who not only has a clean slate in terms of administration but is also portrayed as a young, energetic leader who could challenge the ‘lethargy’ of a 15-year-old administration. This is where Kamal Nath has a disadvantage over Scindia because he is from the ‘old establishment.’
As a result of massive infighting, the Congress party decided not to project the CM faces for the state assembly elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. The Congress is worried that announcement of CM face might end up escalating the intra-party rivalry that’s why they have decided not to elevate any one leader as the CM face. As far as Madhya Pradesh is concerned, both Scindia and Kama Nnath are very strong faces of the Congress but Rahul Gandhi’s preference of CM is his close friend Scindia. In order to avoid further rift in the party, the high command played safe by declaring that the CM face will be announced after the elections.
In all this, Digvijay Singh has been sidelined by the party. The party is hardly giving him any importance. Even his protégé Rahul Gandhi also royally snubbed him at his rally in Mandsaur, MP. Congress president Rahul Gandhi sidelined his political guru Digvijay Singh throughout the entire length of his speech, that too in Digvijay Singh’s home state. Not just Rahul Gandhi but even Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia too ignored the two terms Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh. The Congress party and its supporters are giving importance to Digvijay Singh only in posters.
For More details: Digvijaya Singh royally snubbed by Rahul Gandhi at Mandsaur rally, Madhya Pradesh
It is precisely in this context that Shivraj vs Digvijay becomes important. Shivraj Singh Chouhan has taken over the state from Digvijay Singh in 2003. At that time, the condition of the state was terrible and Digvijay Singh was abhorred by the people for not doing anything to bring out the state from the clutches of poverty. The state was known only for backwardness in terms of development. There was lack of proper electricity, road networks were non-existent, corruption was rampant in all the government departments, no proper education system, the agriculture sector was in sad state and there were many other problems and the CM of the state- Digvijay Singh- was not doing anything to solve the problems of the people. The state started developing only after Shivraj Singh Chouhan came to power. Over the last 15 years, Madhya Pradesh has made a remarkable progress in all the sectors and all the development indicators be it road, healthcare, agriculture, employment, electricity, education, rural welfare, development of cities like Indore and Bhopal, cleanliness, welfare schemes for the poor etc. Under the leadership of Shivraj Singh Chouhan private sector has also witnessed a huge growth in the private sector. More and more numbers of multinational industries are coming to the state and there are big manufacturing units of textiles, cement, Polymers, fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) etc.
Madhya Pradesh is among the fastest growing states of India. The state is among the top 10 for about decade. It has made a remarkable improvement in the agriculture sector. State’s agriculture sector has achieved double-digit growth. At a time when all India growth rate of agriculture sector was less than 4%, Madhya Pradesh’s agriculture sector registered a growth rate of 13.9 per cent over the five-year period 2010-15- delivering a cumulative growth of 92 per cent over the period. Irrigation, electricity, road, and procurement contributed to the growth of agriculture in Madhya Pradesh. The state has risen to the top of wheat producing states, MP has replaced Punjab as the top contributor of wheat. According to ICRIER’s report, the Madhya Pradesh’s wheat production increased from 6 million tonnes in 2005-06 to 17.1 MT in 2014-15 — 185% increase. The state has done well in the production of soybean also. It also top contributor of paddy and many other crops.
Under Shivraj Singh Chouhan cities like Indore and Bhopal developed rapidly. Indore is the 10th fastest growing city in India and the world’s 32nd fastest growing urban centre. It is often referred as mini-Mumbai. Indore is the commercial capital of Madhya Pradesh. Software giants such as Infosys, CSC, IBM have made huge investment in Indore. The city also has prestigious educational institutes like IIT and IIM and rapidly becoming a hub of coaching for preparation of civil services exam. It won the award of cleanest city of India for two times in a row under Pradhan Mantri Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
MP was in the list of the “most impoverished states” also called as the BIMARU (Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh) states but Shivraj Singh Chouhan single handedly took the ‘M’ out of ‘BIMARU’.
Digvijay Singh is the CM who made MP a ‘bimaru state’ and synonymous with corruption. During his tenure of CM, this saying used to be very popular: MP ka ek parichay,Tooti Sadke aur Digvijay.
MP CM's praise of MP roads is too much,but remember MP under Cong had no development. People said:MP ka ek parichay,Tooti Sadke aur Digvijay
— गीतिका (@ggiittiikkaa) October 25, 2017
The memories of terrible condition of MP under the rule of Digvijay Singh are still alive in the minds and hearts of people of the state. What he did, completely wiped out Congress from MP. He is one of the worst CMs India ever had. Direct attack by Shivraj makes him the face of the Congress and reminding the electorate why this ‘face’ should never be allowed to rule MP again. The incumbent CM of MP knows that attacking Scindia would only empower his image, it will give credibility to him as the perfect opponent of Shivraj and the Congress’ plan to portray Scindia as ‘clean, young leader’, and make the fight between ‘lethargic old vs dynamic young.’ This would get Scindia a major boost. However, there is no such compunction in attacking Digvijay. In his speeches he is stressing on the year when he took over the state from Digvijay Singh.
13 साल पहले जब मैं मुख्यमंत्री बना तब प्रदेश के हालात ठीक नहीं थे। हमने पहले मध्यप्रदेश को बीमारू राज्य की श्रेणी से निकाला फिर इसे विकासशील बनाया, विकसित बनाया और अब इसे समृद्ध बनाने की ओर अग्रसर हैं।: श्री @ChouhanShivraj #AmitShahInMP #SamriddhMP
— Office of Shivraj (@OfficeofSSC) October 9, 2018
By making Digvijay Singh as the main target of his attacks, Shivraj Singh Chouhan has put Digvijay Singh in the centre. By portraying him as his counterpart, Shivraj has shown that the choice of the electorate is either him or the man who ruined MP i.e. Digvijay Singh. and when it comes to this choice, Shivraj Singh is miles ahead. This strategy works well for a politician like Digvijay Singh as well at a time when he has been sidelined by the party in MP politics and heading towards political irrelevancy. Attacks of Shivraj work as oxygen for him, it gives him the political relevancy and legitimacy that he had lost and this is probably his only way to bounce back in MP politics. So, Shivraj Singh Chouhan is killing many birds with one stone. He is subduing his enemies- Scindia and Kamalnath- without directly confronting them. And in this fight, Digvijay Singh is hoping to gain his place in the Congress by the virtue of being the man even Shivraj Singh Chouhan fears the most.
So far, Shivraj’s game of fighting anti-incumbency seems to be going well.