“मैं तो साहब बन गया” : सीएम के साले संजय मसानी का सियासी सफ़र

Sanjay Singh Masani

Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s brother-in-law shifts from BJP to Congress

NK SINGH

वारासिवनी: कांग्रेस उम्मीदवार संजय सिंह मसानी वोट कितने बटोरेंगे, कहना मुश्किल है, पर वे तालियाँ खूब बटोर रहे हैं. मसानी मध्य प्रदेश के मुख्यमंत्री शिवराज सिंह चौहान के साले हैं. चुनाव के ठीक पहले उन्होंने भाजपा का साथ छोड़कर कांग्रेस का दामन थामा. Continue reading ““मैं तो साहब बन गया” : सीएम के साले संजय मसानी का सियासी सफ़र”

सवर्ण वोट मध्य प्रदेश विधान सभा चुनाव में गेम चेंज़र बन सकते हैं

Dainik Bhaskar 9 October 2018

Upper caste votes may prove game changer in Madhya Pradesh

NK SINGH

विधान सभा चुनाव की विधिवत घोषणा भले ही ६ अक्टूबर को हुई हो, पर मध्यप्रदेश में इसकी बिसात जुलाई में ही बिछ चुकी थी, जब मुख्यमंत्री शिवराज सिंह चौहान ने अपनी जन आशीर्वाद यात्रा शुरु की.

उस दिन से ही भाजपा और कांग्रेस अखाड़े में ताल ठोंक रहे हैं. इन 12 हफ़्तों में प्रदेश की राजनीति ने दो दिलचस्प करवटें ली हैं.

छह अक्टूबर को जिस दिन भाजपा अध्यक्ष अमित शाह और कांग्रेस अध्यक्ष राहुल गाँधी दोनों मध्यप्रदेश के चुनावी दौरे कर रहे थे, दूर लखनऊ में सपा अध्यक्ष अखिलेश यादव कांग्रेस से नाता तोड़ने की घोषणा कर रहे थे: “कब तक इंतजार करें, एमपी में हम चौथे नंबर की पार्टी हैं.”

एक सप्ताह पहले ही बसपा सुप्रीमो मायावती कांग्रेस को बाय-बाय कर चुकी थीं. पिछले चुनाव के आंकड़े बताते हैं कि बसपा के साथ आने से कांग्रेस को लगभग ४५ सीटों पर फायदा मिल सकता था.

समझा जाता था कि भाजपा को हराने के लिए कांग्रेस दूसरी पार्टियों को साथ लेकर इलेक्शन लड़ेगी ताकि सरकार-विरोधी वोटों का बंटवारा न हो.

राजनीति में दो और दो हमेशा चार नहीं होते, चालीस भी हो सकते हैं. परसेप्शन का अपना महत्व होता है. वह हवा बनाने का काम करता है. Continue reading “सवर्ण वोट मध्य प्रदेश विधान सभा चुनाव में गेम चेंज़र बन सकते हैं”

मध्य प्रदेश विधान सभा चुनाव 2018, ब्रांड शिवराज की कसौटी

Shivraj Singh Chouhan, pic courtesy MP BJP

2018 MP Assembly election a test for Brand Shivraj

NK SINGH

२००३ के विधान सभा चुनाव प्रचार की आखिरी शाम. कार ओरछा के रास्ते गड्ढों में हिचकोले ले रही थी. रात के अँधेरे को चीरती हेडलाइट की रोशनी सड़क के किनारे पड़े गिट्टी के ढेरों पर पड़ी. दिग्विजय सिंह उस तरफ इशारा करते हुए बोले, “चुनाव के बाद सड़क का काम शुरू हो जायेगा.”

सड़क की मरम्मत तो हुई. पर तबतक दिग्विजय सिंह मुख्य मंत्री नहीं थे. उनकी जगह उमा भारती आ गयी थीं.

लालू यादव से प्रभावित दिग्विजय सिंह का खयाल था कि डेवलपमेंट से वोट नहीं मिलते. पर उनकी सोशल इंजीनियरिंग धरी की धरी रह गयी. दलित एजेंडा का पांसा उल्टा पड़ गया. गांवों में सवर्ण और ओबीसी लामबंद हो गए.

पर उस चुनाव में कांग्रेस की करारी हार के पहले दिग्विजय सिंह ने एक और काम किया था —- मध्य प्रदेश को दो हिस्सों में बाँटने का. आनन-फानन में असेंबली से प्रस्ताव पास करा कर सन २००० में छत्तीसगढ़ बना.

नए राज्य ने न केवल मध्य प्रदेश का राजनीतिक भूगोल बदल दिया बल्कि उसके राजनीतिक इतिहास को भी प्रभावित किया.

पहले प्रदेश में कांग्रेस और भारतीय जनता पार्टी के बीच वोटों का अंतर आम तौर पर एक से तीन प्रतिशत के बीच हुआ करता था. पर छत्तीसगढ़ बनने के बाद वह बढ़कर ८ % से भी ज्यादा हो गया.

२००३ की हार के बाद कांग्रेस लगातार कमजोर होती चली गयी और भाजपा मजबूत. कांग्रेस के वोटों में लगभग ६ % की गिरावट आई.

दूसरी तरफ, भाजपा के विधायकों जीतने का औसत मार्जिन बढ़कर दोगुने से ज्यादा हो गया. भाजपा का जनाधार बढ़ा ही, उसने नए इलाकों पर भी कब्ज़ा किया. अपने पारंपरिक गढ़ मालवा-निमाड़ और मध्य भारत के साथ-साथ वह महाकौशल और बुंदेलखंड में भी मजबूत होकर उभरी.

मध्य प्रदेश में राजनीति की धूरी कांग्रेस से खिसककर भाजपा के पास आ गयी है. पिछले कुछ चुनावों के आंकड़े देखें तो भाजपा को सत्ता से हटाना तभी मुमकिन है अगर उसके खिलाफ कोई कोई हवा चले. Continue reading “मध्य प्रदेश विधान सभा चुनाव 2018, ब्रांड शिवराज की कसौटी”

In Madhya Pradesh, bureaucrats are forever

DB Post 5 Jan 19

NK SINGH

The decision to appoint Sudhi Ranjan Mohanty as the new chief secretary of MP, was taken soon after the Congress returned to power in MP. However, the new government refrained from posting him as Officer On Special Duty, waiting in the wings to take over as CS, as has become customary in recent years.

Mohanty was himself averse to the idea of moving into the hot seat early. Hence official orders were issued at the last hour even as many kept guessing.

But some people did not want to keep guessing. The moment Mohanty’s name started making rounds as a probable candidate for the top post, they tried to sabotage his chances.

Soon after the change in the government, Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s office started getting petitions to stop Mohanty’s appointment as chief secretary, according to a source in AICC.

But those petitions failed to stop Mohanty’s resurrection. Apparently, the new Government wanted to make amends for the BJP Government’s earlier decision of superseding Mohanty.

Mohanty, who was a star in the Digvijaya Singh administration, was bypassed in the race for chief secretaryship in 2016 when the BJP government preferred BP Singh, two batches his junior.

Mohanty is considered an efficient officer. In a state notorious for its laid back style, he is considered a go-getter. But the BJP government ignored his seniority as his name had figured in a two decade old case of bad company deposits made by the Digvijaya Singh administration.

It became a political scandal with the BJP training its guns on the predecessor government for the bad loans. In the legal case that followed, the BJP government made officers too accused along with politicians.

Mohanty kept winning appeals in one court after another. But he continued to suffer due to his perceived closeness to the previous regime.

It is an open secret in bureaucratic circles that an influential group of IAS officers close to ex-CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan also worked overtime against him.

Mohanty joined IAS at the age of 22. Had his promotion not been delayed, he would have continued in the post of CS for four years, scuttling the chances of scores of others.

Given this background many people anticipated that Mohanty’s fortunes would turn now. So his appointment did not cause any surprise. But many Congressmen’s eyebrows were raised as their government gave a post superannuation job to outgoing chief secretary BP Singh.

Chief Minister Kamal Nath had opposed the six month extension given to Singh last year on the ground that it would affect the fair conduct of polls. The petition to the Election Commission virtually questioned his impartiality.

Apparently, that was public posturing. The message from BP Singh’s post superannuation job is clear: the new government does not believe in mingling administration and politics. Nath has also indicated that he values competent officers with proven integrity.

Yet another appointment last week also underlined Nath’s preference for officers of proven caliber. Former chief secretary R Parasuram, who was working as chief of State Election Commission, will now be heading the institute of good governance. That was also least expected. Says Parsuram: “It came as a pleasant surprise.”

More importantly, Nath has also made it clear that his administration does not believe in vendetta. Soon after the political change, the Government transferred large number of officers from key postings. But contrary to popular perception, it didn’t affect many officers considered close to Chouhan.

In fact, Nath retained one of the Chouhan appointees in the CM secretariat. It is well known that officers in CM secretariat are considered closest to the political executive. The CM depends upon these officers even for work of political nature. Hence the retention of Ashok Barnwal in CM secretariat was a fine example of change with continuity.

Even Vivek Agarwal and M Suleman, considered Chouhan’s blue eyed boys, continue to enjoy important assignment. While Suleman was not touched, Agarwal got the important department of PHE.

No action was taken against any officer because he or she was perceived to be close to Chouhan. While the decision has been criticised by many Congressmen, it reflects political maturity and self confidence of the new dispensation.

The only senior officer to suffer was probably Manoj Shrivastava as it was felt that he used to wear his ideology on his sleeves. In a case of poetic justice he was given charge of the cow ministry, a part of the Hindutva brigade’s political agenda.

It may sound cynical, but the recent bureaucratic changes prove that babus are there forever.

Powers That Be, my column in DB Post of 5 January 2019

 

We get the Neta we deserve

 

DB Post 1 December 2018

NK SINGH

Yogendra Nirmal, the sitting BJP MLA from Waraseoni, is known for his simplicity and honesty. His austere lifestyle inspires both awe and amusement. Dressed in knickers and vest, every morning he can be seen sweeping not only his house but also the street in front of it.

He did not pick up the broomstick because of the Modi Government’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. He has been wielding it long before he became a member of the MP Assembly, long before he became the chairman of the local municipal committee.

Most of the voters in the constituency have their favourite Wodehousian tale to share about their MLA’s unimpressive appearance. “Once, I went to Bhopal to meet him,” recalls Balaghat journalist Atul, “he opened the doors in his chaddi and then went to the kitchen to make tea for me.”

His dress sense, rather lack of it, has become part of the political folklore in the area. He is oblivious to his crumpled shirt, unshaved face with several days of growth and the habit of wearing his trousers without belt. “And he would climb the stage in that kind of dress even to address a rally with the CM,” says Devesh. Continue reading “We get the Neta we deserve”

Why is MP BJP acting over-confident?

DB Post 10 Nov 18

NK SINGH

Sartaj Singh, recently of the BJP, is a five time member of Lok Sabha and a two time MLA. He once defeated Arjun Singh, one of the tallest Congress leaders of his time. The 78-year-old Sikh leader was a minister in union government and then a member of the Shivraj cabinet until three years ago when he was dropped on age ground.

Sartaj Singh is popular nurses his constituency well. One of the apocryphal stories about him is that on entering Itarsi, his home town, he sends his vehicle home with the driver and walks down the streets.

It normally takes him 4 to 5 hours to reach home, situated just a km away. He would stop to chat to passer-bys, have a cup of tea at a stall, visit a friend’s home, enter the odd shop to enquire about business, exchange pleasantries with people and sign on petitions of any citizen who cares to buttonhole him on the road.

He has never lost an election. Yet the BJP refused him ticket, making him weep publicly like a child, prompting him to cross over to the Congress. The Hoshangabad seat, from where the Congress has fielded him, became doubtful for the BJP and so is now his old constituency of Seoni Malwa.

If winnability is the criteria for ticket, then the BJP seems to have failed the test. Take for example Indore, where no one doubts the influence of BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya. The Indore strongman is a known opponent of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

Three years ago he was made to quit the state cabinet and sent off packing to New Delhi. In 2013 assembly election too he was deprived of a ticket from Indore because he had insisted on the candidature of his confidant Ramesh Mendola. Vijayvargiya was asked to contest from neighbouring Mhow, a totally unchartered territory for him. To his credit, he managed to win against all odds.

This time, he has been refused a ticket because he insisted on a ticket for his son, Akash. His opponents saw to it that he sacrifices his own ticket to get one for his son. The BJP has fielded a reluctant Usha Thakur from Mhow, making the outcome doubtful. Thakur’s constituency was handed over to Akash Vijayvargiya.

Ramesh Mendola, a lieutenant of Kailash Vijayvargiya, offered to vacate his seat for Akash. But the BJP leadership asked him to stay put, in an apparent move to sow seeds of discord between the guru and the disciple. Someone in BJP was playing politics, without bothering about the fate of Mhow seat.

If you think that Sartaj Singh was denied ticket on age criteria or Kailash Vijayvargiya was kept out because of kin issue, think twice. The BJP has given at least 44 tickets to close relatives of its leaders. It has similarly fielded several leaders who are in the same age bracket as Sartaj Singh is.

The way ticket has been distributed does not augur well for the BJP. Despite a strong and visible anti-incumbency it has repeated more than two-third of its seating MLAs, including some whose victory is doubtful. It has also fielded 16 such candidates who had lost 2013 elections even at the height of pro-Modi wave in 2013.

The only conclusion one can draw from the BJP’s list of candidates is that the party with a difference is now afflicted with the same disease that had always plagued the Congress, viz factionalism.

The only person who could emerge victorious in this tug of war was former Chief Minister Babulal Gaur, a ten-time MLA, whose margin of victory has been increasing with each successive election. In his case the high command intervened to ensure a ticket for his daughter-in-law because it learnt that if he revolts, the BJP would definitely lose not only his seat, but also a few others surrounding it.

An analysis of the Congress line-up shows that it has played its card well, keeping in mind winnability criteria, by and large. Only two candidates were ‘para-dropped’ Sartaj Singh and Sanjay Sharma. The party was convinced that they have a winning chance.

Sanjay Masani, Chouhan’s brother-in-law, is the only exception. It has also given more ticket to women candidates as compared to the ruling party. It has also fielded more young faces, including candidates from its students’ wing and youth wing.

The selection of candidates is normally considered the first round of election. The BJP will now have to step up its effort to quell the revolt from within its rank if it wants ‘abki baar, 200 paar’. 

DB POST 10 November 2018

 

 

 

Kamal Nath’s journey from Davos to Dewas

DB Post 13 Oct 2018

 

NK SINGH

Perched atop Bhopal’s Shamla Hills, the CM House is indeed MP’s power centre.

Just across the road, overlooking the picturesque Upper Lake, stands another colonial bungalow that has emerged as the state’s second power centre.

Only a few feet of asphalt divide the two high profile neighbours.

State Congress president Kamal Nath, the occupant of the other house, has pitched a make-shift tent in its sprawling campus. It is to accommodate the perennial stream of visitors.

The campus resembles a mela ground. Those making a beeline to the house include political leaders, not necessarily from the Congress party, business tycoons and journalists. Some government officials are also in touch.  Continue reading “Kamal Nath’s journey from Davos to Dewas”

Line blurred between ruling party & government in MP

DB Post 6 Oct 2018

NK SINGH

It is time for the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh to reap what it has been sowing for 15 years.

It has launched a publicity blitzkrieg to monetise its purported achievements. Anyone who lives in the state can’t escape the carpet bombing unleashed by the government.

The media, both new and traditional, is drowning in it. Billboards inform citizens that they live in a golden state, Swarnim Madhya Pradesh.

Freebies distributed among the poor carry photographs of their benefactors. Our mandarins had even planned tiles carrying the PM’s and the CM’s images outside the government built houses.

It is overkill. If you live in MP, you get the impression that every morning the sun rises in the east due to the efforts of only one person. No awards for guessing who that person is. Continue reading “Line blurred between ruling party & government in MP”

कलेक्टर ने सड़क की शिकायत करने वाले को जेल भेजा

Citizens march against Collector for sending senior citizen to jail

Collector sends to prison senior citizen for complaining about bad roads

NK SINGH

प्रमोद पुरोहित ने सपने में भी नहीं सोचा था कि अपने गाँव की खस्ताहाल सड़क की शिकायत करने पर उन्हें जेल जाना पड़ेगा। मध्य प्रदेश के नरसिंहपुर जिले में पिछले दिनों ठीक ऐसा ही हुआ। सड़क मरम्मत करवाने की मांग लेकर जिला कलेक्टर की जन सुनवाई में पहुंचे रेलवे के 61 वर्षीय इस रिटायर्ड जूनियर इंजीनियर को चार दिन जेल में गुजारने पड़े। कलेक्टर के कहने पर उन्हें गिरफ्तार किया गया था, सो उसके अधीन काम करने वाले एसडीएम ने भी जमानत नहीं दी।

नौकरी से रिटायर होने के बाद पुरोहित अपने गाँव खुरपा में बस गए थे। वे खेती-किसानी कर गुजारा करते हैं। आस-पास के गांवों में उनके परिवार की बड़ी इज्जत है। उनके गाँव से बगल के कस्बे को जोडऩे वाली सड़क काफी खराब हालत में है। सड़क इतनी खराब हालत में है कि बारिश के दिनों में उस पर पैदल चलना भी मुश्किल है। वे दो साल से उस सड़क को ठीक करवाने की जद्दो-जहद कर रहे थे। पर तमाम कोशिशों के बावजूद सरकार उस सड़क की सुध नहीं ले रही थी। Continue reading “कलेक्टर ने सड़क की शिकायत करने वाले को जेल भेजा”