MP: Political stability for BJP despite Uma

 
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Bhopal, Dec 27: The year 2006 saw a now stable BJP notching up several electoral victories while the Congress busied itself in looking for a new leader and Uma Bharti's Bhartiya Jan Shakti was yet to make its mark.

The ruling BJP in Madhya Pradesh emerged victorious in four by-elections under the leadership of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan -- its third in the its first two years.

It was not an easy task for Mr Chouhan, especially at a time when people were dissatisfied with the leadership crisis at the top level. However, though being known for his soft image, he displayed steel enough to take tough decisions, including the removal of the state's Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police after certain complaints were received against them.

Another significant development was the election of young turk and Public Relations Minister Narendra Singh Tomar as new state BJP President.

The party won four by-elections, including Budhni assembly constituency from where Mr Chouhan sought entry into the state assembly, as well as the Malehra and Pandhana assembly by-elections.

It also retained the Vidisha Lok Sabha, which he had vacated.

After her expulsion from the BJP, former Chief Minister Uma Bharti floated Bharatiya Jan Shakti in Ujjain in April and challenged the BJP but failed to register a mark on the political scene of the state.

The BJS contested in all the by-elections barring Budhni assembly by-election, but its overall performance was dismal except in Malehra.

Meanwhile, the main opposition party, the Congress was accused of not discharging its role effectively. State Congress President Subhash Yadav failed to constitute party executive in the whole year.

The leadership issue also figured as Congress General Secretary and former two-time Chief Minister Digvijay Singh anoounced that he had taken retirement from electoral politics.

The names of Union Ministers Suresh Pachauri, Kantilal Bhuria, Congress MP Jyotiraditya Scindia and MLA and former minister Ajay Singh had come forward but no consensus has been reached.

The year witnessed a major tragedy in the academic world -- resulting from the nexus of politics and crime -- when Ujjain's Madhav College Professor H S Sabharwal was killed by students irked over the postponement of students union election. The issue became big problem for the BJP with several ABVP leaders being accused of the crime.

The brutal murder of Pandhana MLA Kishorilal Verma and his wife allegedly by a contractor over a money transaction also dominated headlines.

The death of dacoit chieftain Dayaram Gadaria, synonymous with terror in the Chambal region, during a police encounter, was also a major news.

The suspicion over the identity of the slain dacoit was cleared after the DNA test of Dayaram's remains. However, the Gadaria gang's reign of terror in the region is still present.

In another incident, Deepika, daughter of Damoh MP Chandrabhan Singh, was found dead in suspicious circumstances. It was alleged that she had committed suicide.

In the administrative circles, Mr Vijay Singh was removed from the post of Chief Secretary in connection with the submission of an affidavit in the High Court in a case related to State Industrial Development Corporation (MPSIDC) without the state government's knowledge. He was replaced by Mr Rakesh Sahani, a 1972 batch IAS officer.

The government also removed a secretary and a deputy secretary from the General Administration Department.

Meanwhile, Mr Swaraj Puri was removed from the post of the Madhya Pradesh Director General of Police in the wake of a case being registered against him by the state's Economic Offences Wing (EOW). He was replaced by Mr Anand Rao Pawar.

In the past year, heavy rainfall wreaked havoc in several districts with about a dozen districts being in the grip of hailstorm. Relief operations were necessiated in the state capital, as a result of 28 cm rainfall within 12 hours. About 100 people -- including 21 people in the state capital -- were killed in rain-related incidents. More than 8,000 cattle heads perished and crops worth over Rs 1,000 crore were damaged.

In another tragic incident reminiscent of the Dharaji incident in Dewas in 2005, more than 40 people died when water-level suddenly increased while they were crossing Sindh river at Sewada tahsil in Datia district for visiting a Devi temple.

In a major road accident at Govindgarh in Rewa district, 62 people, mostly labourers, were killed. Similarly, 29 people died during a road accident at Piparia in Hoshangabad district.

President A P J Abdul Kalam and Congress President Sonia Gandhi were among high-profile leaders visiting the state.

Dr Kalam addressed a special assembly session on the occasion of the state assembly's golden jubilee celebrations and presented his model of development for the state.

Ms Gandhi also visited the state capital. Besides taking part in some programmes, she addressed a party convention.


UNI

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