Madhya Pradesh: Political history
This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.
2017: Immunity to corporate
When Uma Bharti became MP chief minister in 2003, the ICDS scam was the stick she used to beat the previous Digvijaya Singh government with. More than a decade later, the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government has announced an amnesty scheme for corporate groups who owe the state-run MP State Industries Development Corporation (MPSIDC) for loans it extended under the Inter Corporate Deposit Scheme (ICDS).
Between 1995 and 2001, MPSIDC borrowed money from banks and forwarded them as loans under ICDS to 42 corporate groups. Not only did this violate a 1994 cabinet decision forbidding MPSIDC from disbursing loans, public servants also flouted rules in sanctioning such loans. Amounting to about Rs 400 crore then, the dues have now gone up to Rs 4,000 crore, including interest. At least 20 of these corporates have cases by the state's Economic Offences Wing pending against them.
Under the new amnesty scheme announced by the state industries department last month, corporate defaulters have been asked to submit proposals to repay the MPSIDC. If approved, it would ensure no further criminal action is to be taken against them, provided dues were repaid before June 30, 2017.
"It seems unfair that criminal action should be taken against someone willing to repay the money," says state industries minister Rajendra Shukla. "We have corrected that. A one-time settlement scheme was brought in earlier too, we have just fixed a final date to it." He was referring to the earlier 2004 settlement scheme, under which 18 companies had paid up money.
Facing criticism that immunity from criminal action would weaken ongoing cases, Shukla said, "There'll be no impact on cases already in court." The 18 corporate groups that had repaid dues under the earlier scheme had not been given immunity. "Why won't they ask for it now," asks an EOW officer.
In the legal opinion he had given at the time, then state advocate general R.N. Singh had said settlement and criminal action were separate things. The state government seems to have overlooked that piece of advice.
A handy political tool, the EOW was tasked with trying to find out if former CM Digvijaya Singh and former industries ministers Rajendra Singh and Narendra Nahata had a role in the ICDS scam. Chouhan used it to cut short former chief secretary Vijay Singh's tenure. A number of senior civil servants too have been booked in the case. Yet, 13 years on, there has been no conviction. The state government seems more keen on settling matters rather than raking them up. Could the ICDS scam have outlived its political utility.
Legislative assembly: dy speaker
2019: 29-yr-old tradition broken
Congress won the Deputy speaker’s post, breaking a 29-year-old tradition of the Madhya Pradesh assembly to offer the chair to the Opposition. However, the BJP now wants to approach the President and move a no-confidence motion against Congress for using “unfair process” in the election of the posts.
The BJP’s proposal for candidature of Jagdeesh Dewra was mentioned but not accepted. After protests by BJP, Heena Likhiram Kavre was elected Deputy Speaker. She has been an MLA from Lanji assembly seat twice. “We are unhappy that tradition has been broken, but BJP started it,” CM Kamal Nath told reporters .
As per the tradition, set in the 1990s, the Speaker is appointed by the ruling party while the deputy speaker is given to the Opposition. However, with 109 MLAs, BJP wanted to show its strength in the House and asked for an election for the Speaker’s post.
Congress believes following in the footsteps of Lord Ram will lead them from ‘vanwas’ (exile) to power. What BJP promised in 2007 — retrace Lord Ram’s travels in Madhya Pradesh — Congress has vowed to implement before the assembly election.
Congress will embark on ‘Rampath Gaman’ on September 21, with party stalwarts Kamal Nath, Digvijaya Singh, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Suresh Pachauri and Ajay Singh leading the trail through five MP districts and 35 assembly seats. They will start from the Sphatik Shila in Chitrakoot, the rock where Lord Ram and Sita are supposed to have rested, and move on towards Ramghat in Jabalpur, passing through Gupt Godavari, Sati Anusuya Temple, and the famed Maihar Temple in Satna.
On October 1, 2007, the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government announced ‘Ram Gaman Path’ to trace the route that the Lord took during 11of the 14 years of exile. He is believed to have passed through the districts of Satna, Panna, Shahdol, Jabalpur and Vidisha. The mission was to be led and implemented by R-S-S functionary and former Union minister Anil Madhav Dave. The promise, however, remained unfulfilled and Dave passed away on May 18, 2017.
Now, Congress has vowed to complete BJP’s unfulfilled pledge. The Congress Ram yatra will take 19 days, passing through the districts of Satna, Rewa, Panna, Chhattarpur and Shahdol. It was LoP Ajay Singh who, in July this year, wanted to know why the government had failed to get going on Ram Gaman Path. “Why deceive people in the name of Ram?” he had questioned.
R-S-S shakhas, govt offices, govt. servants
1981, 2000, 2018
Won’t Allow Govt Staff To Attend Shakhas, Says Cong In MP Manifesto
A day after Madhya Pradesh Congress released its manifesto in which it pledged to ban R-S-S shakhas in government offices, BJP called the move a bid to impose Emergency in the state. Congress countered saying it only wants to “restore the law”.
Buried deep within a section titled ‘general administration reforms’ in the manifesto, a single line says that if voted to power, the Congress government will bar R-S-S shakhas in government buildings and also revoke the order that allows government employees to attend R-S-S sessions.
After the manifesto was released, senior Congress member Digvijaya Singh said: “All government employees must remember what Congress has assured in its Vachan Patra (manifesto). If voted to power, no government employee will be allowed to attend R-S-S sessions.”
Reacting to this, BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra said: “It seems Congress these days has only one motto — ‘Mandir nahi banne denge, shakha nahi chalne denge’ (Won’t allow Ram temple to be built and won’t allow R-S-S sessions to run). The party is trying to impose emergency in the state. Congress should apologise for such remarks.”
Congress first imposed such a ban in 1981, which Digvijaya revived in 2000 when he was CM of Madhya Pradesh. Interestingly, the ban survived nearly three years of the BJP government — under Uma Bharti, Babulal Gaur and Shivraj Chouhan — until Chouhan revoked it in September 2006, describing R-S-S as a socio-cultural organisation and not a political entity.
MPCC chief Kamal Nath explained that the manifesto does not call for a ban on R-S-S, as was reported in some sections of the media, but seeks to restrict participation of government employees in R-S-S sessions. “BJP has picked up some lines from the Congress manifesto and raked up a controversy. It’s playing a political drama ahead of elections. In the name of ban on R-S-S, it is trying to instigate certain sentiments,” said Kamal Nath.
Attacking the opposition party, Patra said: “It was Congress that called Naxals ‘revolutionaries’ and linked R-S-S to Muslim brotherhood. Now, they are against Ram temple and R-S-S sessions, too. Only BJP favours the construction of Ram temple and will fulfil the promise through constitutional process. Other parties play politics. Congress leader Digvijaya Singh dubbed Ram Janmbhoomi a ‘disputed site’ and used foul language to instigate sentiments. He mourns the killing of terrorist Osama and used honorifics ‘ji’ for him. But, it was R-S-S who helped people of Kerala during severe flood.”
Five 'babas' get minister of state status
The MoS status has been accorded to Narmadanand Maharaj, Hariharanand Maharaj, Computer Baba, Bhayyu Maharaj and Pandit Yogendra Mahant.
On March 31, these five religious leaders were appointed to a committee set up for the conservation of the Narmada river.
As members of the committee, they have been given the MoS status, an official said.
The state government on Tuesday accorded the minister of state (MoS) status to five Hindu religious leaders, a move which was slammed by the opposition Congress. The MoS status has been accorded to Narmadanand Maharaj, Hariharanand Maharaj, Computer Baba, Bhayyu Maharaj and Pandit Yogendra Mahant.
On March 31, these five religious leaders were appointed to a committee set up for the conservation of the Narmada river. As members of the committee, they have been given the MoS status, a GAD official said on Tuesday. However, Congress dubbed the decision as an attempt by the BJP to exploit religious sentiments of people for political gains.
“It's a political gimmick. This is also an effort by the chief minister to wash off his sins. He ignored conservation of the Narmada. These saints should inspect where the state government has planted six crore saplings (along the river banks) as claimed by the CM,” said Congress spokesperson Pankaj Chaturvedi.
State BJP spokesperson Rajnish Agrawal, however, said the opposition Congress dislikes anything done in reverence to saints. “Saints and seers were accorded the MoS status to make their work of environment and river conservation more easy. They were largely roped in for the Narmada conservation work to ensure more public participation,” Agrawal said.
Pre-poll amnesty to criminals, as in 2005 and 2012
Four months ahead of state assembly polls, the MP government announced amnesty to petty criminals and undertrials from impoverished backgrounds.
“The government will begin the process of withdrawing cases... and instructions will be issued to district collectors and SPs to prepare a list of such cases by July 31,” chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said. Habitual offenders will not be freed.
Sources said amnesty will be given in petty crimes pending in court for 10 years or longer. “How many cases will actually be withdrawn is yet to be calculated,” said a senior police officer.
The decision, though surprising to many, isn’t unprecedented in Madhya Pradesh. In 2005, the then CM Babulal Gaur had withdrawn 64,000 cases against criminals, followed by 18,000 more in 2012 when he was law minister of the state.
Why the Cong- BSP alliance did not materialise
Inside Story Of How Party Tried For Tie-Up With BSP In MP Till Last Moment
Till the last moment, the Congress brass nudged its reluctant MP unit to stitch an alliance with BSP for state elections, a surprise development which resulted in revival of talks and a final round of talks being finalised for Wednesday night.
The eagerness was such that Rahul Gandhi called MP unit head Kamal Nath on Wednesday afternoon and suggested that a last-ditch effort be made. It led to hurried scheduling of talks between Nath and BSP general secretary and key Mayawati aide Satish Chandra Mishra. Congress’s data analytics department chief Praveen Chakravartty was also drafted in to make an analysis of the list of 30 seats that BSP was demanding, sources said.
Party leaders were surprised at the resurrection of talks given that Mayawati had announced 22 candidates for MP and dealt a blow to Congress by tying up with Ajit Jogi in Chhattisgarh. On Wednesday, Congress was in for a bigger jolt as Mayawati, hours before the revived talks, went public with an acerbic outburst, accusing Congress of arrogance and announcing there would be no partnership in MP and Rajasthan.
By insider accounts, there was a yawning gap between the central leadership and the state unit over tie-up with BSP. While Rahul appeared driven by the belief that an early tieup would help seal the ‘mahagatbandhan’ in UP for the 2019 elections, state strategists felt it was “impractical”. Sources said BSP had pared down its wish list of 50 seats, but was seeking ones that intrigued Congress leaders. BSP’s final list of 30 had many constituencies where the party polled hardly any votes in 2013. The data analytics department pointed out that BSP contesting those seats would strengthen BJP’s chances. While not helping the alliance, the spread of the seats sought by BSP also showed that the UP outfit was keen to make a pan-MP presence instead of focussing on ‘winnability’. As the afternoon wore on, Congress, armed with the analysis, was convinced that the alliance would not happen.
Govt. stops Rs 25,000 pm ‘Emergency pension’ started in 2008
The Kamal Nath government in Madhya Pradesh has suspended pension to over 2,500 people who were imprisoned during the Emergency under MISA (Maintenance of Internal Security Act) and DIR (Defence of India Rules), saying the beneficiaries will be “verified” and a new process formulated.
The decision has raised eyebrows as Congress had imposed the Emergeny and Kamal Nath was seen to be close to Sanjay Gandhi in those days. An incensed BJP has threatened to move court.
In 2008, the then Shivraj Singh Chouhan government had started a scheme providing a monthly pension of Rs 25,000 to ‘Loktantra Senanis’, a term given to MISA and DIR detainees. There are 2,604 such beneficiaries in the state.
TOI had on December 22 reported that the Congress government plans to withhold pension to the detainees. On December 29, the general administration department issued a circular to district collectors and divisional commissioners saying, “There were reports of overspending of Loktantra Senani Samman Nidhi... To regularise the funds, it is now mandatory to table a new bill in the assembly and seek excess funds. This calls for a new proper, transparent process and scrutiny of MISA detainees. For this, separate instructions will be released. Till then, it has been decided to suspend disbursement of pension of MISA detainees.”
Congress spokesperson Narendra Saluja said the MISA pension hadn’t been stopped and the aim was to identify ‘fake beneficiaries’, if any. “However, officials confirmed to TOI that instructions have been issued to all district treasuries and banks to put payments on hold.
Mandatory for industries to hire 70% locals
The Kamal Nathled Madhya Pradesh government on Monday made it mandatory for all industries in the state to provide 70% employment to local youth.
“To fulfil the manifesto promise, we have made 70% jobs mandatory for local youth of MP across industries facilitated by state government,” Nath tweeted.
“The new industrial policy has been made effective and all industries who seek incentive from the state must provide 70% jobs to local youth. We have not received any proposal turning down incentives provided by government, hence all industries covered under this policy will have to mandatorily follow the rule,” said principal secretary of department of industry Mohammed Suleman.
Sources said firms given land and other facilities by the for mer BJP gover nment have also been asked to follow the new policy.
Industrialists give thumbs up to MP govt’s job rider
Kamal Nath, who announced the state’s new industrial policy in December 2018, will hold discussions with industrialists on February 19 to encourage investment and generate employment for youth.
Undeterred by criticism for linking job deprivation to migration from other states, he stuck to his 70%-job clause. The CM, in his personal capacity, assured industrialists of a conducive atmosphere to invest in MP.
“We plan to hold the ‘Invest Madhya Pradesh’ summit from October 18-20. The government has provided all possible assistance to investors to promote industries in the state and will hold one-to-one discussions to see it happening,” chief secretary S R Mohanty told TOI.
As per the new industrial policy, the government has decided to set up training sessions and employment fairs in each district to register unemployed youth who will be provided stipend and later jobs under the 70% clause.
Industrialists seemed to welcome the job rider. “There is no problem for industries to employ 70% local youth and there are ample opportunities to adjust manpower. The only hurdle is bureaucratic attitude and stubbornness. We consider the CM better to communicate with rather than bureaucrats,” said industrialist and former state head of PHD Chamber of Commerce Rajendra Kothari.