BJP has not been able to constitute a Council of Ministers in Madhya Pradesh to help Shivraj Singh Chouhan who has been Chief Minister since March 23, nor has it been able to approve of a name to be appointed as Health Minister. However, an extra-constitutional body has been set up by the party high command to virtually work as the cabinet. It has been given the pompous name of ‘High-powered Special Task Force’. State BJP president V D Sharma is its convener.
Its members include Chief Minister Chouhan; Suhas Bhagat, State BJP General Secretary (Organisation), who has been deputed by RSS to the BJP; BJP’s National General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya; former State BJP president Rakesh Singh, MP; Gopal Bhargava, who was a minister in the previous Chouhan government and Leader of Opposition during the Congress government of Kamal Nath; Narottam Mishra, Rajendra Shukla, Meena Singh, Tulsi Silavat and Jagdish Devda, all former ministers. Tulsi Silavat was Health Minister in the Kamal Nath government and was one of the 22 Congress MLAs who had gone out of the Congress along with Jyotiraditya Scindia.
The ‘Task Force’ was constituted by the BJP in a hush-hush manner, without making a formal announcement. According to a newspaper report, the ‘Task Force’ will review the steps taken by Chouhan to contain the coronavirus which appears to have gone out of control of the Chouhan government, the number of infected persons in the State having gone beyond 600. The Health Department of the State has been paralysed with over 70 of its personnel, right from Principal Secretary Pallavi Jain Govil downwards, in the grip of the virus.
This is a very unusual and extra-constitutional step by the BJP as the members of the party committee will practically work like ministers, being privy to official/confidential files/notings and aid and advise the chief minister which is the task of the Council of Ministers. They will be virtual ministers without any accountability. Such a framework of governance was never heard in the country in the past.
That apart, the constitution of the ‘Task Force’ is a bad news for Chouhan. It is a sort of no-confidence in Chouhan’s capability to handle the situation. The presence of some of his arch rivals in the Task Force, particularly of Kailash Vijayvargiya and Gopal Bhargava, is going to kill his joy of being the Chief Minister. This has also led to speculation that chouhan may be replaced as Chief Minister once the situation becomes normal.
Views expressed here, are the author’s personal opinion