Bhopal, Oct 31: Madhya Pradesh, considered a sleeping giant endowed with nature's bounty, is marching ahead on the path of progress as it completes five decades of its existence today, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said.
Home to the largest population of Scheduled Tribes, Madhya Pradesh witnessed several dynasties ruling the region and absorbed different cultures.
It emerged as the largest state with 4.43 lakh sq KM area during its formation on November 1, 1956 with the merger of Central Province, Madhya Bharat, Vindhya Pradesh and Bhopal. The state was truncated to its present form as Chhattisgarh with total area of 1.35 lakh Sq KM was carved out of it on November 1, 2000.
With a total population of more than six crore, density of population still remained less than 200 per sq km and literacy rate is less than 65 per cent. Spread over 313 development blocks and having 55,392 villages, the state switched over to the Panchayati Raj system last decade itself.
Of the total 17 Chief Ministers in 50 years, the first chief minister Pandit Ravishankar Shukla remained in office for exactly two months. During the period, the state had as many as 22 Governors with the first incumbent B Pattabhi Sitaramaiya holding office from November 1, 1956 to June 13 next year.
The state's first woman Governor Sarla Grewal held office for less than a year from March 31, 1989 to February 5, 1990, while first woman chief minister Uma Bharti held the reins from December 12, 2003 to August 23, 2004.
Late Raja Naresh Chandra Singh of Sarangarh had the shortest tenure of 13 days as chief minister from March 13, 1969, while Mr Digvijay Singh held the tenure for a decade from December 7, 1993. Mr Shyama Charan Shukla and Mr Arjun Singh also held office for three terms each.
After remaining backward for a long period, the state is on its onward march to progress with top priority to infrastructure development and thrust on social sectors, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said.
Industry Minister Babulal Gaur, who was also Chief Minister for a brief period, claims the state received investment proposals to the tune of over Rs one lakh crore and a Global NRI meet is scheduled next year to attract more investment.
Construction of a number of projects on the west-flowing Narmada increased irrigation potential as also availability of electricity.
Over the years, the state followed bipolar politics with Congress and BJP changing sides in the past three decades with the present BJP government having three-fourth majority in the 231-member Legislative Assembly.