Chief ministership is a small thing, I will do what party tells me to, says Shivraj Chouhan
Bhopal: Chief ministership is a “small thing” for BJP workers who do what the party asks of them, four-time Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan has said, attributing the BJP’s thumping victory in the assembly election to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and “double-engine” governance.
In an exclusive interview with ThePrint less than a week after his party secured won 163 of MP’s 230 seats, Chouhan, whose Ladli Behna Yojana is believed to have been one of the major factors to have helped buck anti-incumbency in the state, said that Modi becoming the PM for a third term is not only important for India but “for the world as well”.
“Double-engine sarkar” is a term the BJP uses to describe BJP governments at the central and state levels.
“These (the CM’s position) are small things for us. We don’t keep ourselves in the centre and work. The party gives us work and we do it. Who will be there (next CM) and who won’t is for the designated committee (the BJP parliamentary board) to look into. These things are not for us to think about. We don’t comment on them,” Chouhan, the BJP’s longest-serving CM, told ThePrint.
Asked if he would agree to a fifth term in office if the party were to ask him, he said: “Wherever the party keeps me and whatever it asks me to do, I will do.”
Chouhan’s comments come at a time when the BJP’s central leadership is believed to be reluctant to name him CM for yet another term and looking “for a new face”.
Despite the party’s reluctance to fight the election under him as they had previously done, Chouhan — who’s popularly known around the state as ‘mama’ (uncle) — held over 160 public meetings and roadshows in the run-up to the elections.
Although the government’s Ladli Behna Yojana, under which it promises a monthly stipend of Rs 1,250 to eligible women, has widely been seen as a game changer in the election, Chouhan believes that it was a collective effort.
“We fought the election under collective leadership,” he said. “Each of our leaders fulfilled their duties and credit goes to all. It was my duty as well to work day and night.”
As the CM of the state, he wanted to bring the BJP to victory, he said. “More so because we wanted to carry forward the things we had started for development in Madhya Pradesh and the welfare of the beloved people of the state. When you think of a goal with such determination, God also gives you the strength that you don’t feel hunger and thirst, which is what happened to me. I worked day and night,” Chouhan said.
Next on cards — winning all 29 parliamentary seats
According to Chouhan, the victory cannot be solely credited to the Ladli Behna Yojana.
Women-centric central schemes such as the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana, campaigns such as Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, and the Modi government’s decision to provide one-third reservation in Lok Sabha and state assemblies to women, combined with the state government’s other schemes such as the Ladli Laxmi Yojana and Kanyadan Yojana helped consolidate women’s votes, he said.
“The popularity of the prime minister, the trust people have in him, and the effective implementation of Centre’s schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi, Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, and Ayushman Bharat Yojana had an impact on the victory,” he said.
After the party’s massive win, several BJP MPs and leaders rushed to Delhi to meet the central leadership. But Chouhan went to address a public meeting at Chhindwara, the bastion of MP Congress chief Kamal Nath where the BJP lost all seven assembly seats. Here, the chief minister launched ‘Mission 29’ — the party’s mission to win all 29 parliamentary seats in the state.
Why did he go to Chhindwara instead of Delhi? Most of the people who went to Delhi were MPs, he said.
“If someone is a central minister or an MP, they will be in Delhi which is natural. I, on the other hand, have this mission to win all 29 Lok Sabha seats and contribute in making Narendra Modi the prime minister once again,” he said.
India, he said, was progressing quickly under Modi’s leadership.
“The country had already become No. 1 in several things. I believe that India will become the best country under his leadership and will lead the world. Narendra Modi becoming the prime minister is not only important for the country but for the world as well,” he said.
(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)News Related