Yesterday on January 10, the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) appointed former chief ministers of Hindi heartland states, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Raman Singh and Vasundhara Raje as its vice presidents. By bringing these prominent leaders into the national politics, the saffron party appears all set for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
On the eve of BJP’s two-day national council meeting in Delhi, BJP president Amit Shah made the appointments. The move indicates that these three leaders will play a crucial role in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
The trio of Vasundhara Raje, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, and Raman Singh, has provided great leadership in their respective states. Especially, Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Raman Singh had held the fort for the saffron party along with Narendra Modi in Gujarat when it was reduced to a regional party in 2009. In the 2009 general election, BJP bagged only 18.8 percent of total votes and political pundits predicted that BJP will be wiped out from the political map of India very soon. But these leaders kept the spirit of BJP alive and today, it has become the largest political organization in the world.
After the trio was relieved of their responsibilities in their respective states, there were speculations that the BJP high command might consider them to fit in the central government. The BJP’s campaign will definitely be strengthened in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in case they are inducted in to the central leadership. All the former CMs have performed well on the administrative front as well as on the developmental front.
Chief Ministers of Hindi heartland states, Shivraj Chouhan, Raman Singh, and Raje, have proved that they possess statesman’ calibre and can bring consensus among all stakeholders on any issue irrespective of their alienations. Shivraj Singh Chouhan, three times CM of Madhya Pradesh is among such kind of political leaders in the country. When Chouhan was in power in the state, a particular section of society in MP started protesting over the differences on Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Chouhan government at that time amended the law for instilling a sense of self-respect among upper castes and other backward classes (OBCs). The then MP government also started a scheme named ‘Purohityam’ under which diploma course is being made available for the profession of the priesthood. For a long time, MP was known as a region where dacoits, criminals had stronghold and lawlessness prevailed to a great extent. But, since Chouhan assumed power in 2005, the state got ranked among the well-governed states of the country with law and order restored.
Similar is the track record of the former CM of Chhattisgarh, Raman Singh. The state of Chhattisgarh was among the poorest regions of the country when it was separated from Madhya Pradesh in 2000. The fate of the state turned in next election when a ‘gentleman politician’, Raman Singh was chosen by the BJP for the post of CM in 2003. He cooperated with the central government to take on the Maoist stronghold in the southern part of the state. He created Sadwa Judum, a state-sponsored independent organization which recruited tribal people to fight against fellow Maoist tribals. This shows the administrative genius of Raman Singh. There had hardly been any corruption charge on his government in the last one and a half decade of tenure. He played an instrumental role in solving the problem of Naxalism in the state. In the words of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Naxalism is, “The greatest internal security threat to our country”.
Earlier, in Rajasthan, Vasundhara Raje led government had planned to distribute free mobile phones to women who fall under the Below Poverty Line (BPL) category and Wifi facilities to around 5,000-gram panchayats in the state. Bhamashah Yojana, started by Raje government, is arguably the most efficient Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) scheme in any state in India. Under the Bhamashah Yojana, financial and non-financial benefits of government schemes were provided to the needy families in a transparent manner using DBT mechanism. Also, former BJP CM launched “Mukhyamantri Rajshree” Yojana in 2016 to stop female foeticide and encourage girl child education.
The administrative expertise of these leaders has been appreciated even by the opposition and left-liberal media establishment. Given the track record of these BJP leaders, they appear suitable candidates to lead the campaign of the saffron party in the Lok Sabha election.