Shivraj Singh Chouhan is no less ‘jumlebaz’ than Narendra Modi. If he were sincere about implementing even a fraction of the promises he has made since November 2005 when he became Chief Minister for the first time, Madhya Pradesh would not have acquired the dubious status of being one of the most crime-prone and corrupt States in the country. Following a spate of incidents of domestic violence in the State in late March, he announced that the perpetrators of such crimes will be punished more stringently than the existing provisions in law provide. He directed State’s Director-General of Police Vivek Johri to catch hold of such criminals promptly and ensure that they get harsh punishment.
Very sensitive and humane approach, one may think. Yes. But only till one is told that it is not the first time that he has cornered publicity and sympathy by showing such grave concern for the victims of domestic violence. Following a large number of cases of domestic violence in august 2007, he had asked the police to take action in such cases promptly. Not only that, the Chief Minister had directed the police to register Domestic Incident Report (DIR) instead of First Information Report (FIR) in cases of domestic violence. The new forms for registration of DIR were sent to the police stations. Besides, the government had promised to organise workshops for the personnel of the police and set up family counselling centres to acquaint them with the provisions for proceeding in cases of domestic violence.
A big tome is needed to enumerate all the promises made by Chouhan after becoming the Chief Minister. Only a few, ostensibly more important, are recounted here briefly: he promised change of laws and rules and revision of Revenue Code to provide better and prompt relief to the farmers during a calamity. In fact, this was one of the 35 promises made by him to ameliorate the conditions of farmers in the State. As he calls himself a ‘kisan-putra’, it is natural that his first concern should be farmers. Within months of his becoming Chief Minister, he convened a kisan panchayat at the Chief Minister’s residence where he made 35 promises to take care of every big and small problem of farmers.
After having made the farmers a happy lot, Chouhan distributed similar happiness jumlas to other sections of society. He declared that a housemaid would no more be called as Bai (as is the custom) but ‘Behen’ if she is younger and ‘Didi’ if she is older. The Bais would be issued photo identity cards and the government would spend up to Rs 20,000 if a Bai fell ill. This facility would be extended to her husband, son, daughter, mother-in-law, father-in-law and widowed and deserted daughter also. He promised financial help for cremation if an agricultural labourer or his/her dependent died; land, new cycles, new bright uniforms every year and immunity from prosecution to kotwars; international markets to be made available to the small scale industrialists for their products.
After having solved the problems of each and every section, Chouhan decided to establish a Department of Happiness to spread all-round happiness in the state. The first Minister of Happiness, incidentally, was Lal Singh Arya against whom there was a non-bailable arrest warrant in a murder case at that time.