Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India
Jun 12, 2019, 11.57 AM
Within a short span of the formation of the Kamal Nath-led Congress government with a wafer-thin majority, the question being asked by people across the board in Madhya Pradesh is whether it's changed (after 15 years of BJP rule) for the better or worse?
The image of the state government has started declining and what's added velocity to this fall is the crushing defeat the Congress party has suffered in the just-concluded Lok Sabha elections.
Nath began his innings as Madhya Pradesh chief minister on a robust note, especially given his reputation as an experienced administrator and long exposure as a Union Minister. The background and also the hybrid political stature exclusively derived from the closeness to the Nehru-Gandhi family notwithstanding, Nath assumed the seat of power in Madhya Pradesh with the unwritten rider that a large part of his strength in the Assembly was courtesy Digvijaya Singh, senior Congress leader and former Madhya Pradesh chief minister, who commands the biggest support base in the state cabinet that also includes his son Jaivardhan Singh, who holds the portfolio of the high profile Urban Development and Housing department. In this backdrop, those in knowledgeable circles even started saying that besides the chief minister, there is also an extra-constitutional power centre in the state.
Regarding Nath's grip on administration, everyone having a ringside view knows how particular the chief minister is when it comes to spending long hours at Mantralaya - the state secretariat. They do credit him for introducing a new work culture that keeps the babudom on its toes.
The bureaucracy doesn’t have much to complain on this count but what's keeping them jittery is the sword of transfers constantly hanging over them.
Within a short time span, there's been a slew of transfers at all levels and the signals are that the transfer industry is now fully entrenched. Adding to the downside also is the anger that's brewing among the Congress workers. A senior party leader, who preferred to call himself a "disciplined party worker" said the other day “God save his party” after the electoral debacle in general election 2019.
Referring to his party managing to win only 1 of the 29 parliamentary seats in the state, he said the chief minister is not accessible to party workers like him, who have devoted their entire life to the Congress party. This is not the way forward, he opined adding even the Congress President is annoyed as the chief minister could hold his own turf by getting his son elected from Chhindwara, his traditional parliamentary constituency, while every other Congress candidate was defeated in Madhya Pradesh.
The Congress government in Madhya Pradesh began what's supposed to be a "five-year run" with the tall pre-2018 Assembly election promise that all farmers' debt would be waived once the Congress gets elected to power. Congress president Rahul Gandhi had shouted from the rooftop about the waiver of rural loans to woo the farmers during electioneering for the general election to the state Assembly. This one promise became a waterloo moment for Congress party in the parliamentary election as the farmers felt robbed when it came to the implementation of this promise. Now the dilemma on the ruling side is the banks telling the farmers who have benefitted from the loan waiver scheme that they would not be eligible for new loans. No wonder they are feeling cornered and cheated.
This summer season, mercury has soared crossing all limits and just as the people feeling the heat like never before, the state Congress unit bosses both in the government and the party are feeling the political heat as there is the growing talk of the Kamal Nath government losing its majority on the floor of the state Assembly. BJP insiders are responding to this speculation by saying that they are not interested in destabilising or pulling the rug out from under the present government. They will prefer to wait and watch it crumble under its own weight and growing dissidence within.
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL.)