Why BJP's victory in Haryana should worry Shivraj Singh Chouhan in Bhopal

BJP’s sterling performance in Haryana has left signs of anxiety among Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s supporters.

Chandrakant Naidu October 24, 2014 08:13:53 IST
Why BJP's victory in Haryana should worry Shivraj Singh Chouhan in Bhopal

BJP’s sterling performance in Haryana has left signs of anxiety among Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s supporters.

Even before the results were announced several bill-boards hailing the ‘Hero of Haryana’ sprang up both in Indore and Bhopal – not-so-subtly suggesting a fresh performance appraisal for Madhya Pradesh Urban Development Minister Kailash Vijayvargiya, who was in charge of election management in Haryana. As arch rival of Chouhan, Vijayvargiya could not have sent a louder and clearer message to the party bosses. His supporters say he can now be either considered for a role at the Centre or a bigger role in the state, apparently as a replacement for Chouhan.

Though the bill-boards have the images of most senior leaders including Chouhan, their sponsors like Dhruv Narain Singh are no longer close to the chief minister. Singh is facing a litany of criminal cases including alleged role in the murder of an RTI activist and was denied the ticket to contest the Vidhan Sabha elections at Chouhan’s instance.

Why BJPs victory in Haryana should worry Shivraj Singh Chouhan in Bhopal

Shivraj Singh Chouhan. AFP

Chouhan got the largest share of credit for the party’s splendid showing in both in assembly and Lok Sabha elections. Chouhan’s projection as Advani protégé and prospective prime ministerial candidate partly took away some sheen out Modi’s campaign blitz in the state.

Modi who was launched as prime ministerial candidate through a grand rally in Madhya Pradesh continued to be run down by the Advani camp. Chouhan may have done all he could to undo the damage caused by such projections. But his rivals in the state have not kept quiet.

Chouhan’s embarrassment in the professional examination board (PEB) scam in which some RSS functionaries were also named and a minister was arrested, led to speculation about his replacement. Modi’s presence at the recent Gobal Investors’ Meet at Indore partly helped in reassuring Chouhan of his position. That, however, has not disheartened rivals like Vijayvargiya.

Vijayvargiya was a hit in Haryana as he managed to get the support of the Sirsa cult Sachcha Sauda for the party. His supporters say he was also popular for making crisp speeches and embellishing them with bhajans. They say he infused the "killer instinct" in party workers. "So far the BJP was contesting the elections well but it lacked the killer instinct and Vijayvargiya infused it this time," said a senior BJP leader.
Of the 4,000 party workers who converged on Haryana from other states nearly 3,000 were from Madhya Pradesh thanks to Vijayvargiya, say his supporters.

Vijayvargiya, who is known in Madhya Pradesh for muscle power, broke many barriers of political propriety to prove his worth to get close to the Modi camp. He does seem to enjoy immense confidence of both Modi and Amit Shah.

Interestingly on October 17, even before the results were announced in Haryana the Indore bench of Madhya Pradesh high court (MPHC) had issued a notice to Vijayvargiya in multi-crore Sugnidevi land scam.

Just a few days earlier the Lokayukta had charge-sheeted the party’s MLA and one of his close associates, Ramesh Mendola, and 17 others in the land scam and gave a clean chit to Vijayvargiya.

Former Congress MLA Suresh Seth had challenged Lokayukta order clearing Vijayvargiya by filing a private petition. The petitioners had alleged that while Vijayvargiya was the main accused in the land scam his name was deleted from the FIR filed by the Lokayukta.

The unabashed alliance with the controversial Dera Sachcha Sauda was apparently considered as the killer instinct. Never before did a prime minister publicly invoke a religious sect in an election rally. Even the Dera had never supported a political party openly nor did the chief of the Dera publicise his vote to send a signal to his supporters. Vijayvargiya is said to have taken 44 of the party candidates to the Dera headquarters to seek the blessings of Gurmeet Baba Ram Rahim. Earlier, BJP president Amit Shah also reportedly held a closed-door with meeting with the controversial Baba.

Amit Shah apparently got the Dera chief to declare the cult’s support to the party just before the campaigning ended for state elections. The issue could fall into the purview of the election commission. But the commission obviously failed to take note of the election code violation. Even the party’s rivals failed to make an issue of the violation of People’s representation Act. Vijayvargiya was able to channelize the crucial support of 8000 to 10000 votes of Dera supporters in each constituency. Vijayvargiya is obviously keen on a position in the organisation or in the Union ministry if the wait for the top job in the state stretches inordinately long.

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