Issue :   
Happy New Year 2020 to all Readers.          January 2020 Edition of Power Politics is updated.
Issue:Jan' 2020


Lofty claims, little change on
the ground

N D Sharma

Kamal Nath C redit must be given to political adroitness of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath that he managed to complete one year in office in spite of intense infighting in the ruling Congress party and intermittent threats from the BJP to topple his government.
Last year he formed a minority government with the help of one SP, two BSP and four independent MLAs after a prolonged tussle within his own party, first for the post of Chief Minister and then for representation of different factions in the Council of Ministers.

A K Antony Kantilal Bhuria In sheer desperation, he inducted 28 members into his cabinet, all of cabinet rank and only six of them with previous experience as ministers. The infighting in the Congress continued throughout the year. At one stage the fight between Forest Minister Umang Singhar and former Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh was referred to the Central Disciplinary Committe headed by A K Antony which, apparently, could do no more than warn them as it could not risk action against either of them under the present circumstances. With the recent victory of former Union Minister Kantilal Bhuria from the Jhabua constituency in a by-election, the ruling party reached a halfway point with 115 members in a House of 230.

One year later, Kamal Nath is feeling more confident. In a lacklustre function organised on November 17 to celebrate completion of one year of his government, he launched his government’s “Vision to Delivery Roadmap 2020-2025”, even though the term of the present Assembly is till the end of 2023 only. The “Roadmap” was released by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Shivraj Singh Chouhan While presenting the salient points of the “Roadmap” before a select audience at historic Minto Hall, Kamal Nath (in Modi style) first castigated the previous BJP government of Shivraj Singh Chouhan for its various failures and then enumerated his achievements, starting every sentence with “I did this” or “I made this”. He made much of his first decision to waive farmers’ loans which, though, still continues to be a contentious issue in the State. The Chief Minister claimed that he had fulfilled 365 promises made by him in the past 365 days.
Some of the achievements claimed by him were: 27 per cent reservation to backward classes; provision of 100 units of power for Rs 100 only under the Indira Griha Jyoti Yojana, benefiting 85 lakh consumers; enhancement of Nirashrit pension from Rs 300 to Rs 500 per month; increase of the grant under girls’ marriage/ nikah scheme from Rs 28,000 to Rs 51,000; implementation of Kisan Samriddhi Yojana for price stabilisation of wheat; launch of Mukhyamantri Yuva Swabhimaan Yojana to train urban youth in vocational skills; an posting of doctors in adequate numbers in health institutions with modern medical facilities.

The Chief Minister’s lofty claims notwithstanding, there is little change visible on the ground. Corruption in government departments continues unabated, law and order situation in the State is as bad as it was during the previous BJP government, crimes against women have only increased, government hospitals continue to be in bad shape, academic institutions are restless and distribution of electricity and drinking water continues to be faulty. Administration remains almost paralysed because of frequent transfers and re-transfers of civil and police officers (reportedly involving huge amounts of money), there is a government in the State but hardly any governance.

The only commendable thing is the government’s recent “war” against the adulterators of food items. Some horrible facts have come to light in the process. Madhya Pradesh State Cooperative Dairy Federation supplies milk and milk products in the State under the brand name of Sanchi. It has now been revealed that the Sanchi milk was adulterated with detergents --- no one knows for how many years it has been going on.

Recently the government took on land mafia also and demolished their illegal posh hotels, clubs and restaurants in Bhopal and Indore, some of them being in operation for decades. There are allegations that the government is targeting mafia leaders affiliated to the BJP only and was sparing those with connections in the Congress.

A Congress leader, however, remarked that crooks are rarely loyal to a particular party as they align with whichever party is in power. In any case, the government is yet to take on sand mafia which is so powerful that it has attacked, in the past, many government officials trying to check their illegal activities and even killed an upright IPS officer.

N P Prajapati Tarun Bhanot Manmohan Singh Manmohan Singh’s presence at the function did little to enliven the event. He spoke, more or less, on the points from the “Roadmap” which the Chief Minister had earlier mentioned; like the government’s efforts to increase investment which would open up opportunities for more employment. He did not digress from the “Roadmap”.
Those who were hoping that the former Prime Minister would say something about the volatile situation in the country were sorely disappointed. He did not field questions from the audience nor did the Chief Minister. After the Chief Minister and the Prime Minister had delivered their sparkless speeches, the function was over.

Even though Assembly Speaker N P Prajapati and Finance Minister Tarun Bhanot were seated on the dais, neither of them was asked to speak. After the speeches, the former Prime Minister was whisked away for the lunch. He was kept away from the media. His only other programme in the city was a visit to Tribal Museum in the afternoon.

The only significant part of the function was the giving away the Indira Gandhi Award for Social Service posthumously to Abdul Jabbar for his dedicated life-long efforts for relief and rehabilitation of the victims of Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster of 1984. But that, too, the government did without any grace.

It is the highest and most prestigious Award of the State government and carries Rs 10 lakh. Jabbar died on November 14. Jabbar’s wife, Sayra Bano, received the citation and the cheque from Manmohan Singh. However, neither Chief Minister Kamal Nath nor former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh even mentioned Jabbar’s name in their speeches, leave aside saying a few words about his struggle for the gas leak victims. The citation was there but it was not even read out.