Bhopal, November 17
Eyeing a return to power, Madhya Pradesh’s longest-serving Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is not leaving any part of this large state uncovered while campaigning for the assembly elections and on his way, he carries home-cooked food and manages with small naps inside his chopper in between rallies.
Responding to chants of ‘Mama, Mama’—his popular moniker—by children, Chouhan tells them their ‘mama’ (maternal uncle) would take care of them, while in rallies he never misses any chance to take a dig at leaders of the Congress, which is trying hard in these elections to return to power.
“Jab Tak Rahega Diggi (former Congress CM Digvijay Singh) tab Tak jalegi dibbi,” Chouhan said during his campaign trail on Saturday, referring to the Congress rule till 2003 and alleging that the people felt at that time that they would have to manage with kerosene lamps as long as Digvijay Singh was in power.
The BJP is banking on Chouhan’s image for returning to power in the state for the fourth consecutive time, while the Congress leaders feel there is a strong anti-incumbency factor against Chouhan, who has been the chief minister since 2005.
For Chouhan also, listing his government’s achievements has equal importance in his speeches as his description of the situation during the Congress’s rule till 2003 in the state.
He alleges that the Congress leaders have become frustrated after being out of power for so long and therefore, they don’t like his development work.
Dressed in his trademark kurta pyjama with jacket, as he headed for Ratangarh in Jawad assembly constituency in Neemucu district on his Bell helicopter, Chouhan said: “They are away from the chair for 15 years and when now they see that I am coming back to power for the fourth time, Congress leaders get angry and level baseless allegations”.
“Even their president Rahul Gandhi is doing so and not even spared my son by dragging his name in the Panama paper leak case,” the chief minister said in between his electioneering.
Chouhan, who just released the party’s vision document for the crucial assembly polls, said: “The scheme announced to benefit small and marginal farmers will prove to be a game changer”.
“Unlike loan waiver scheme announced by the Congress, the BJP’s scheme will give the farmers right to live with dignity,” he said.
In the midst of the flight, Chouhan had a neatly packed home-cooked lunch and also shared the same with fellow passengers.
The chief minister, who remains in campaign mode 24x7, read points of the speech to be given and took a quick nap to give rest to his throat.
Soon after, he woke up to ask the pilot how much time was left to reach the next destination.
There is hardly any time for a proper sleep when the election campaign is in full swing, said his accomplices.
After having tea on board, Chouhan explained why it was important to issue a separate manifesto for women.
“They constitute half of our population and it was in my heart to do something for them. They still suffer a lot and therefore, we have made various provisions for them,” he said.
When asked about anti-incumbency against his government, Chouhan dismissed such reports and said his government has done a good job on the developmental front and the high voting per cent will definitely be in his party’s favour this time also.
In the 2013 polls, Madhya Pradesh recorded a poll turnout of 72 per cent and this time the Election Commission has set a target to take it to 80 per cent.
When asked about his brother-in-law Sanjay Singh Masani joining the Congress recently, he said: “It will not have any impact”.
On his expectations on the number of seats that his party is expecting, Chouhan said: “BJP has set a target of 200 plus and we will form the government for a record fourth time in a row”. The elections for all 230 seats will take place on November 28 and votes would be counted on December 11. In the 2013 elections, the BJP won 166 seats.
When asked about political ambitions of his wife, Sadhna Singh, Chouhan said: “She is my strength and she supports me in all my endeavors”. Asked about his son, Kartikey’s chances of entering politics, he said at present he will pursue a career in law.
When told that he made a good beginning in the field of law as he has filed a defamation case against Congress President Rahul Gandhi for dragging his name in the Panama paper leak case, Chouhan just laughed.
As the chopper started receding, Chouhan informed that the venue Ratangarh is one of the most interior area in Jawad constituency in Neemucuh district bordering Rajasthan.
People greeted Chouhan by waving at him and taking his photos with ubiquitous cellphone, as his calvacade approached the venue, .
He assured those present, especially children that their Mama, as he is popularly known will take care of them.
“Kids call me Mama I love you and I also respond with ‘I love you too’,” Chouhan said with children yelling ‘Mama Mama’.
After the meeting Chouhan took his medicine in the chopper Khadradi for his throat before his next meeting at Budha in Mandsaur district, as the next destination on a day scheduled with as many as six public meetings. PTI
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