Shivraj Singh Chouhan said at a Mandsaur function on September 20 that he is a temporary Chief Minister (of Madhya Pradesh). Chouhan is not known to be a person to say such things lightly; hence the speculation that he has probably received some adverse hint from the party’s Big Boss in Delhi. It may be due to the unsettled state of his mind that a mess is developing in the State government affairs. The controversy over the loan waiver of farmers has become a major embarrassment for his government.
Agriculture Minister Kamal Patel informed the Assembly during its one-day session on September 21 that the Congress government of Kamal Nath had disbursed around Rs 11,000 crore to write off the farm loans of 26,95,381 farmers in the State; farmers with a loan of over Rs one lakh were the beneficiaries of the scheme. About the loans of the remaining farmers, Patel said that a detailed review was under way.
Farmers’ loan waiver was a major plank of the Congress party during the electioneering for the 2019 Assembly elections. After the party formed the government with Kamal Nath as Chief Minister, it had raised the loan amount by promising to waive farm loans up to Rs 2 lakh. However, the government had to go after 15 months following defection of 22 party MLAs loyal to Jyotiraditya Scindia and their resignation from the Assembly.
After formation of BJP government, Chief Minister Chouhan and others in his government and the party have been constantly harping on the Congress government’s failure to keep its promise of waiving loans of farmers; Congress government was accused of telling lies and committing fraud on the State’s farmers. Accusations against the Congress on the farmers’ loan waiver issue had reached a high pitch in view of the ensuing by-elections to the Assembly. Suddenly there are the loan waiver figures given by the Agriculture Minister in the Assembly. As it is a burning issue, one can reasonably assume that the minister may have brought it to the notice of the Chief Minister.
After Patel’s Assembly reply on loan waiver during the Congress regime appeared in media, there was an understandable disquiet among the BJP leaders. But none in the party appeared to think of how to absorb this shock.
Minister of Urban Administration and Development Bhupendra Singh said that what Kamal Patel had stated in the Assembly was based on ‘wrong information’ given by the officials. He told reporters: ‘Adhikariyon ne is sambandh mein Pradesh Vidhan Sabha ko galat jaankari di hai. Jaanch ke baad sahi jaankari di jayegi’ (the officials gave wrong information to the State Assembly regarding this matter. Correct information would be supplied after an inquiry}.
Bhupendra Singh is a veteran legislator and now an important minister. It is surprising that he should project himself as an enemy of common sense. It is the elected minister who is accountable to the Assembly and the people and not XYZ. While the controversy rages, with the Congress leaders having gleefully jumped into the fray, the Agriculture Minister and the Chief Minister are keeping quiet.
Incidentally, only Chief Minister is not ‘temporary’ in Madhya Pradesh. After Lalji Tandon’s death, Anandiben Patel has been temporarily holding the charge of Governor. Vidhan Sabha continues with pro tem (temporary) Speaker. Half the ministers are temporary as they are not MLAs and there is little chance that by-elections will be held before their six-month period expires. From September 30, MP High Court will also have a temporary Chief Justice (Justice Sanjay Yadav) after retirement of Chief Justice Ajay Kumar Mittal.