BJP's landslide victory in Madhya Pradesh is more surprising because Shivraj Singh Chouhan led the party to victory after two successive terms.
In Rajasthan, BJP was out of power. In Chhattisgarh also, the BJP has got the third term but the victory is not as one-sided.
In MP, the win is important because after ten years of BJP rule, the party managed to override the anti-incumbency factor.
It is a fact that Chouhan, who belongs to the backward Kirar community (OBC), has established a connect with electorate in the state.
Chouhan is soft-spoken and humble unlike many other politicians. Also, people from outside Madhya Pradesh find it surprising that he is quite popular among of Muslims.
The constituency wise analysis clearly shows that Muslim mohallas have also voted for BJP across the state. BJP legislators in Bhopal and several other Muslim majority areas, know it well, and hence they don't rake up controversial issues anymore.
In fact, either it is BJP leaders like Vishwas Sarang or district president and legislator Surendra Nath Singh, they have strong Muslim support. Their close associates are Muslims too. For Muslims in other parts of the country, who still think that it is a taboo to get close to BJP, this is strange phenomenon.
How? I am no BJP fan. But Chouhan does have certain qualities that his rivals lack, and it must be admitted. Firstly, Chouhan's pet scheme 'CM Kanyadan Yojana' under which state government conducts mass marriages, is also extended for Muslims and 'nikaahs' are also performed. See the LINK
Poor get benefited as the expenditure is borne by administration, and the newly wedded couples get cash apart from utensils and other basic utility gift items. The Ladli Laxmi scheme is aimed all the girls across the state. This scheme has also brought him enormous goodwill.
No wonder, there can be anger with party or MLAs but move around the state and nobody would criticise the Chief Minister. While Hindus from all the districts are sent to pilgrimages on government money, elderly Muslims also go to Ajmer under the MP government scheme.
Not just Congress leaders but other politicians can also learn a lot from Shivraj's soft-spoken, humble style. There is no arrogance and this is in sharp contrast with the other politicians. One of the most important reason is that communal violence is tackled with an iron-hand.
Muslims appreciate how he has dealt with communal elements, especially, in the second tenure. All IGs, SPs know that CM doesn't want any communal trouble. In case there is a riot-like situation developing, force from neighbouring districts is rushed to control it.
|Wearing 'topi' not important, inclusive welfare schemes, controlling riots has earned him goodwill|
Hence, communal violence has been rare and if it occurred, then it was controlled in the beginning.
Congress ruled Assam saw large-scale riots sometime back. Rajasthan witnessed the Gopalgarh killings* and numerous other incidents of communal tension.
Instead, the Gehlot government didn't take swift action. Tainted officers including policemen who fired without provocation were let off easily.
In the 'secular' Samajwadi Party (SP) government's rule in Uttar Pradesh (UP), over a dozen riots have taken place in less than two years. The handling of the Muzaffarnagar riots has has alarmed the Muslims across the country.
The SP government appeared trying to hush up the entire issue. From forcing the people to vacate camps to not registering FIRs of the victims, the people are witness how riots have been occurring repeatedly and yet parties that claim to be pro-Muslim, fail on this front.
Yes, Shivraj has no issue wearing a 'skullcap' (topi) or going to Idgah to greet Muslims on the occasion of Eid or holding 'iftaar' during Razman at his residence. An alumnus of Bhopal's Hamidia College, Shivraj has his own brand of inclusive politics.
|Thank God, no Assam, UP, Rajasthan like riots in MP|
It is not that the BJP has changed totally. But the administration isn't overtly communal. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is very much in control.
Despite his image of being fair towards minorities, the State government may time and again push for implementing the Sangh's agenda. It is natural. It happened in the past. If the protests are huge, then there is a rollback. Else, certain things are implemented silently.
But the MP experiment shows, that it doesn't take much to keep Muslims in good humour. 'Riot-free' is the recipe along with a basic good governance with no open bias or discrimination. On the other hand, there are parties that do nothing for Muslims, can't even stop riots, and yet, get the tag of 'appeasing minorities'.
Of course, there is other side too. Corruption is rampant in Madhya Pradesh. The investment didn't come. Roads are slightly better than they were during Digvijay Singh's rule. But employment hasn't been generated. In fact, there are shortcomings and a lot to disagree with.
This blog has quite often been critical of BJP [Congress as well]. The good steps must be appreciated. When there is such a massive mandate, it means the citizens are happy with the government. Chouhan presented himself as a 'common man' and hence, he been rewarded.
No wonder, the positive aspects should be highlighted too.
*In Rajasthan, Muslims were so disgusted with Congress' leadership and its attitude in the aftermath of Gopalgarh killings that they heavily voted for BSP, BJP. Read senior journalist Iftikhar Gilani's report.