Amid Modi wave, Chouhan emerges as an alternative

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by anoop_mig25, Jan 15, 2014.

  1. anoop_mig25

    anoop_mig25 Senior Member Senior Member

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    Amid Modi wave, Chouhan emerges as an alternative

    BY SANJEEV MIGLANI BHOPAL, India Thu Dec 19, reuters.com

    (Reuters) - Five months before general elections are due, there is already an air of victory around Narendra Modi as he strides from one jam-packed rally to the next. And yet, a regional leader from his Hindu nationalist fold is quietly emerging as an alternative to lead the country.

    The main opposition party's candidate for prime minister, Modi is unquestionably the man to beat as the ruling Congress, led by the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, stumbles towards a vote that opinion polls show it will lose.

    Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is tipped to win the election but it may not get an outright majority, and he may be unacceptable to potential coalition partners.

    Ever since a 2002 spasm of sectarian bloodshed in Gujarat where he rules, Modi has been unable to shake off allegations that he carries a deep-seated bias against Muslims, a community that makes up 13 percent of the population.

    Shivraj Singh Chouhan, a softly spoken and unassuming leader of the centre-right BJP, could be a more acceptable figure for would-be coalition allies.

    This month, Chouhan notched up a thumping election victory in Madhya Pradesh, a sprawling state with a population larger than that of France, becoming its chief minister for a third time.

    "Shivraj Chouhan is no threat to Modi, he is not a challenger, but his huge victory raises the stakes," said Girija Shankar, a political consultant with close ties to the Madhya Pradesh administration. "On the scale of electability and performance, the message is - he is not any weaker than Modi."

    Congress did something similar after elections 10 years ago - after wresting power from the BJP, its leader, Italian-born Sonia Gandhi, declined the prime ministership. By naming unassuming technocrat Manmohan Singh as prime minister, she denied the opposition any chance of using her foreign roots to attack the government.

    A farmer-turned-politician, Chouhan is similarly far less divisive than Modi.

    There are other BJP leaders waiting in the wings for the premiership if minor parties that are expected to hold the key to power after the election insist on a prime minister other than Modi as the price for their support.

    Among them are Lal Krishna Advani, a veteran of the party who is still seen as a contender despite his 86 years, as well as former government ministers Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley. All three are virtually household names across India, and Chouhan - a former parliament backbencher - has a far lower profile.

    EARNING HIS SPURS

    Chouhan has long been an outsider among the political elite of New Delhi. When he was first elected to parliament in 1991 he didn't have a sweater to ward against the capital's winter chill, recalls a former associate Anurag Pateriya, who picked up a cheap one from a street market before they boarded the train.

    Chouhan declined requests to be interviewed for this report.

    Swimming below the national radar, he has transformed Madhya Pradesh from a poverty-blighted backwater, unleashing average annual economic growth of 10 percent over the past five years on the back of an unprecedented agriculture boom.

    The explosion in farm output - agricultural growth in the state was 18 percent last year, the country's highest - has been fed by interest-free loans to farmers, a trebling of irrigation cover and a dramatic improvement in electricity supplies.

    Out on a modern four-lane highway from the capital Bhopal to the commercial city of Indore, the rural prosperity is hard to miss. Fields upon fields of soybeans, mustard and wheat stretch out, broken only by factories starting to come up on cleared land.

    Children in uniforms scurry to school on bicycles provided by the state government, pedalling along new roads that are linked to remote villages. They will all be given a free lunch.

    Nearby, expectant and new mothers collect free packets of soya, a mixture of rice and lentils and sweets, a Chouhan initiative to lift the state's infant and maternal mortality rates up to the national average.

    "As a consequence of our pro-poor policies, we subsidise agriculture," said Manoj Srivastava, principal secretary to Chouhan, pointing out that 80 percent of the state's population is dependent on farming. "We make no bones about it - WTO or no - we are unabashedly doing it."

    Chouhan has also introduced tax-friendly policies to attract industry to his state. Along the state highway, Deepak Fastners is building Asia's largest plant to manufacture specialised nuts and bolts for car engines and aircraft. The first phase of the project is expected to cost some $38 million.

    A NUMBERS GAME

    Madhya Pradesh may still lag behind "vibrant" Gujarat, the neighbouring state run by Modi and a darling of investors.

    But unlike his more famous colleague, Chouhan has walked a fine line between a secular image and sticking to the BJP's Hindu nationalist roots.

    As assistants scurried about the chief minister's imposing colonial-era bungalow before his inauguration last week, Chouhan told them that a congregation of Islamic scholars was important for everyone, said a top aide, who asked not to be identified.

    That inclusive approach has won Chouhan support from a fair sprinkling of Muslims, who have traditionally shunned his party.

    For now, Modi is on a roll, tapping into public anger with the Congress after years of corruption scandals, stubborn inflation and dwindling economic growth.

    But, privately, party leaders concede that the BJP may not be able to form a government with Modi as prime minister if it wins less than 180 of the 543 elected seats in the lower house of parliament. If it falls short of that number, it might have to ditch him and find another candidate.

    To rule, a party needs the support of 272 members. Opinion polls so far have forecast the BJP will win around 160 seats, which means it may need to join hands with a cluster of smaller parties to reach the halfway mark.

    The BJP will need support from regional parties in the south and east that may be reluctant to associate themselves with the polarising Modi, fearing a backlash from Muslims in their states. The Janata Dal (United) in Bihar cut ties with the BJP this year after Modi was elevated to a national role, and the party has yet to find a substitute.

    For the moment, Chouhan's camp is quietly biding its time.

    "We want to stay below the national radar, we don't have extra-territorial ambitions," said the aide. "But people in the party, those who have tensions with Modi, may try to push him forward."
     
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  3. anoop_mig25

    anoop_mig25 Senior Member Senior Member

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    MP polls: Was Digvijaya the reason behind Congress’ defeat?

    ok i donot want to put crap just wanted to know whether below posted in above article is true or not

    So is above point a fact or congress has more minority mla`s

    @VIP @NSG_Blackcats @TrueSpirit1 @A chauhan
     
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  4. NSG_Blackcats

    NSG_Blackcats Member of The Month OCTOBER 2009 Senior Member

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    Congress is a divided house in MP and many states in India but that is not the reason for their defeat. It may be one of the reason but they expected to lose MP. The divided house ensured that Congress lose seats compared to last assembly election.
     
  5. Phantom

    Phantom Regular Member

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    A very valid point. Unless Modi miraculously delivers an absolute majority to the BJP, it may well be the case that BJP might end up as the largest Party, but without any allies and thus might have to compromise on Modi becoming PM in order to gain allies and form a Govt.

    Shivraj Singh may yet be the Dark Horse and the one to benefit the most from Modi's popularity!
     
  6. A chauhan

    A chauhan "अहिंसा परमो धर्मः धर्म हिंसा तथैव च: l" Senior Member

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    I can not say much as I am in 36gadh, but one thing I know is Jabalpur has a good population of Islamic radical youths and have heard many reported cases of terror there. Bhopal also has a good Muslim population but comparatively peaceful. MP is situated in a Shudhha Hindi belt, so it will remain a BJP gadh for next 10 years IMO.

    However I don't think that Shivraj Chauhan is an alternative to Modi as a PM. In fact if you check his records Shivraj has taken some "Hindu" decisions in the past e.g. compulsory study of Bhagwad Geeta in govt schools which he took back under pressure, OTOH Modi has not done anything like that IIRC.
     
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  7. Free Karma

    Free Karma Senior Member Senior Member

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    I think Modi is one of the main reasons why people are voting for BJP (they do have other good leaders, but still). I think BJP lost a lot a few leaders due to untimely deaths, in the last few years, but they've managed to drum up excitement for Modi.

    as an alternative, I think Manoj Parrikar seems to have good credentials, such as the IIT tag, the clean Image, but I dont know how much you achieve in Goa, to the point where you can become a showcase leader. But from what I've seen there seems to be a good opinion about him, probably still needs a few years to polish up though(and perhaps grab some achievements)
     
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  8. TrueSpirit1

    TrueSpirit1 The Nobody Banned

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    Grapevine was afloat in media circles that Diggy's rivalry (real or imagined, no idea) with the other Khan-gress camp: Arun Yadav/Kantilal Bhuria was one of the reasons that led to this debacle. That is all I can say. But how does that matters.

    Con-goons have rallied behind AAP with all they have to take on BJP. Modi, Shivraj or Parrikar.....BJP is going in for a extremely nail-biting & hair-splitting times ahead.

    IMHO, BJP govt. formation at center is a distant prospect now unless, AAP continues to goof-up the chance they have in Delhi & BJP can effectively capitalize upon it to mobilize the fence-sitters in their favour.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2014
  9. Singh

    Singh Phat Cat Administrator

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    Modi is much much better than Chauhan.
     
  10. anoop_mig25

    anoop_mig25 Senior Member Senior Member

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    Care to elobrate
     
  11. Twinblade

    Twinblade Senior Member Senior Member

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    There is no Bhopal central constituency. The Muslim dominant constituency is Bhopal north where BJP lost despite fielding a Muslim candidate and recruiting all kinds of shady muslim 'community leaders'. And yes, Digvijay's legacy has ensured that Congress does not stand a chance even for the coming ten years.

    However, if you are talking about MP
    -Shivraj is the king. Modi gets lots of support but Shivraj would have won this much with or without Modi.
    -Minorities trust him. He has kept the Sangh parivar loonies under control (Dhar Bhojshala incident is a prime example)
    -his economic policies are very socialist and farmer centric, but the maths behind them is solid, hence the results. Now he is focusing on boosting SME entrepreneurship.
    -the ministers are corrupt like in all mining/natural resources states, but Chauhan's image is very clean.
    -People want to blame Scindia for Congress getting 51 seats. The reality is that without him, Congress wouldn't even have got those many.
     
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