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December 2017 Edition of Power Politics is updated.         December 2017 Edition of Power Politics is updated.
Issue:Dec' 2017


Stunning debacle!

N D Sharma

An Assembly constituency byelection is not an exciting affair. Less so if the by-election is held towards the fag end of the Assembly term. However, the Chitrakoot by-election in Madhya Pradesh proved an exception and created a stir in political circles.

Shivraj Singh Chouhan The defeat of the BJP candidate was a huge embarrassment for Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. For that, he is himself to blame. He had made it a prestige issue and thrown over a dozen of his cabinet colleagues, 45 MLAs, and seven MPs into campaigning. Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya also campaigned for the BJP candidate while UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath did some indirect campaign from the UP side. (Part of Chitrakoot town is in Madhya Pradesh and part in Uttar Pradesh.) Chouhan himself spent considerable time there. He boasted that after bagging Chitrakoot, the party would aim at winning 200 seats (out of 230) in the Assembly elections due next year.

Neelanshu Chaturvedi celebrating his win in Chitrakoot The by-election was necessitated by the death of Congress MLA Prem Singh, who had won in 2013 with a margin of 10,970 votes. This time the margin of Congress candidate Nilanshu Chaturvedi increased to 14,333 votes. He received 66,810 votes against BJP candidate Shankar Dayal Tripathi's 52,677. Chitrakoot has been considered, by and large, a Congress stronghold. Only twice in the past had the Congress lost there, once to the BSP and once to the BJP.
Chouhan wanted to break the notion of any constituency being a Congress bastion.

Keshav Prasad Maurya Chouhan addressed 38 public meetings and held 11 roadshows in the constituency and spent the last three days of campaigning there. He spent one night each at Turra and Sarbhanga village. The vote share in these two villages must have stunned even Chouhan. In Turra village, Nilanshu Chaturvedi of the Congress received 413 votes and Shankar Dayal Tripathi of the BJP only 203 votes. In Sarbhanga village, 434 votes were polled by the Congress candidate while the BJP candidate got only 23 votes.

Yogi Adityanath Similar was the case in other villages which Chouhan honoured by spending some time there. For instance, in Nevti village the Congress polled 814 votes/ BJP 583; Jaitwara 1550/1323; Nayagaon 1858/620; Chandai 442/232; Margavan 553/134; Kailashpur 422/201; Taagi 322/131; Gopalpur 620/137; Birsinghpur 2964/1831; and Karigohi 770/234.
There were 12 candidates in the fray, nine of them independents. Interestingly, NOTA (none of the above) was the third highest vote- getter with a count of 2,455. Polling was held on November 9 and the result was declared on November 12.

Crimes against women

When Shivraj Singh Chouhan replaced Babulal Gaur as Chief Minister in November 2005, he believed that there was no rule of law in the State. This he put as his top priority. The Governor's customary address to the Assembly at the beginning of Chouhan's first budget session had specifically stated: 'Meri Sarkar ki prathamikata kanoon ka raaj sthapit karana hai' (the priority of my government is to establish the rule of law).

The Governor's address is always approved by the cabinet and reflects the Government's intent. But 12 years later today, there is neither rule nor law visible anywhere in the State.

This horrendous incident may show the state of law and order in Madhya Pradesh. A 19-year old girl, preparing for a UPSC exam, was gang-raped by four persons in Bhopal one evening in early November. The girl lives in Vidisha, about 60 Kms away, and used to come to Bhopal for attending a coaching centre.
After the coaching class, she was going towards Habibganj railway station when she was grabbed by a miscreant. She fought and felled him when his accomplice arrived and the two of them overpowered her and dragged her to an isolated place near the railway tracks in the posh MP Nagar area. Soon their two more accomplices joined them. They hit the girl hard, bound her and raped her repeatedly for three hours. They went for tea and gutka (chewable tobacco) and returned to assault her again and again. As the girl's clothes were torn in the scuffle, one of the culprits even brought from his house clothes for her before leaving her.
The gutsy girl, when she recovered from the trauma, went to the nearby police station with her parents, who are both in the police force, but she was mocked for having come with a 'filmy tale'. She went to three police stations, MP Nagar, Habibganj and Government Railway Police (GRP), but each refused to register an FIR citing lack of jurisdiction.
As she was running from one police station to another, she took her parents to show them the site of the crime. There they saw two of the culprits moving freely. With the help of her parents the girl managed to overpower the two after a scuffle and take them to the police.
Meanwhile, the hapless girl tried to contact senior police officers but without result. Her efforts at getting an FIR lodged succeeded only on the third day when an Additional Director-General (ADG) of Police directed a Deputy Inspector General of Police to personally go to the GRP police station and see that the FIR was registered.
As the incident had taken place in the State capital and it was continuously highlighted in the local media, the Government tried to show its 'efficiency' by suspending a few low rung policemen and constituting a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to investigate the case.

The girl's mother described it as the worst experience of her life. 'If I, as a policewoman, had to face such problems in getting my daughter's gang-rape complaint registered, I can't imagine what the common people must be going through' she said.

The matter did not end there. The two lady doctors who conducted medical examination of the girl wrote in the report that the sexual act was consensual. The investigating team was horrified and contacted the senior doctors at the hospital.
It was claimed that the examination was done by a junior doctor who did not know enough English and made mistakes while writing the report and her senior had signed on the report without reading it. Eventually, two other doctors made the examination and confirmed gang-rape.

C r i m e , particularly the crimes against women, has been steadily going up in Madhya Pradesh which records the h i g h e s t molestation/ rape incidents in the country. The State Assembly was told earlier this year that on an average, 11 women were raped every day and six women were gang-raped every week in the State during 2016, over half of the victims being minor.

Between February 2016 and mid- February 2017, as many as 4279 women were raped and 248 were gang-raped in the State. Of the 4279 rape victims, 2260 were minors. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the State had 5076 such cases in 2014 and 4391 cases in 2015.
Only two days before the gangrape incident, Chief Minister Chouhan had boasted that Madhya Pradesh was better than the US in the matter of women empowerment. What a shameless boast!