Travelling with a CM and his cash in election time

First Print 18 November 2018


Pandit Shyama Charan Shukla was tall. And not only physically. He was chief minister of Madhya Pradesh thrice. He cared for the state and was passionate about irrigation schemes, which he knew better than any engineer. Apart from Shivraj Singh Chouhan, he was the only chief minister of MP who would talk constantly about its development.

His father was MP’s first chief minister, Ravi Shankar Shukla, and younger brother VC Shukla was a star of Indira Gandhi’s cabinet. He was also one of the most transparent politicians I have met. We got on well, may be due to some of my reporting that did not put Arjun Singh, another politician from MP and his bête noir, in favourable light.

Ahead of the 1990 assembly election I landed in Raipur for covering the poll campaign for the magazine I worked for then, India Today. I talked to Shukla and he graciously agreed to take me with him in the chopper that the Congress party had hired for him as one of its key campaigners.

Laden with flasks of tea and boxes of savoury, we took off early one morning on the campaign trail of Chhattisgarh region, then part of united MP. An aristocrat, Shukla always packed his favourite Darjeeling tea, known for its unique floral aroma and distinctive bitter taste that he loved to sip throughout the day accompanied by tasteless biscuits, pungent cheese and baked chivda. That was his meal. Continue reading “Travelling with a CM and his cash in election time”

एक मुख्यमंत्री और उनकी नकदी के साथ चुनावी यात्रा

Prajatantra 18 November 2018

When SC Shukla flew with bundles of currency in a chopper


पंडित श्यामा चरण शुक्ल का कद बड़ा था। केवल शारीरिक रूप से ही नहीं। वह तीन बार मध्य प्रदेश के मुख्यमंत्री रह चुके थे। वे अपने राज्य के बारे में बहुत सोचते थे. खासकर सिंचाई योजनाओं को लेकर वे बहुत कोशिश करते थे. इस क्षेत्र में उनकी जानकारी किसी इंजीनियर से भी ज्यादा थी. शिवराज सिंह चौहान के अलावा वह इस प्रदेश के शायद ऐसे एकमात्र मुख्यमंत्री थे जो सोते-जागते हमेशा विकास की ही बात करते थे.

राज्य के पहले मुख्यमंत्री रविशंकर शुक्ल उनके पिता थे. छोटे भाई वीसी शुक्ला इंदिरा गांधी की किचन कैबिनेट का हिस्सा हुआ करते थे। मैं आजतक जितने नेताओं से मिला हूँ, उनमें सबसे पारदर्शी लोगों में वे एक थे. हमारी अच्छी घुटती थी. हो सकता है यह मेरी कुछ रिपोर्टों की वजह से हो, जो उनके राजनीतिक रकीब अर्जुन सिंह के ज्यादा अनुकूल नहीं थीं. Continue reading “एक मुख्यमंत्री और उनकी नकदी के साथ चुनावी यात्रा”

‘Hamara Bimaru Madhya Pradesh’

DB Post 28 July 2018


The BJP Government, ruling MP for the past 15 years, is justifiably proud of its many achievements. The state’s GDP had nosedived by the time it came to power in 2003. Since then GDP has grown at an astounding rate of 10.2 percent.

Agriculture growth rate has gone up from 3 percent to 18 percent, with foodgrain production increasing by whooping 179 percent. So has irrigation. Per capita income has grown from Rs 14,011 to Rs 55,442. Madhya Pradesh has become a revenue surplus state from a revenue deficit state. It has also become a power surplus state.

But has MP really come out of the Bimaru status and joined ranks of the developed states, as BJP’s spin doctors want us to believe? Sadly, facts do not support this claim. Continue reading “‘Hamara Bimaru Madhya Pradesh’”