RTI query has shown that the Chouhan government in MP, a state due to go to the polls in six months time, has allegedly awarded land to institutes close to the BJP and the RSS. The CM has also been accused of giving land to his relatives and they have remained there flouting court orders.
Whether the allegations are true or not are for the concerned authorities to decide, but what the smoke has done now is that it has given a strong blow to those opposed to Modi's prime ministerial candidature for the next Lok Sabha elections. Leaders like L K Advani and Sushma Swaraj are known to back Chouhan over Modi as BJP's main face ahead of the 2014 polls.
Chouhan has been the CM of MP for two consecutive terms and a victory this year will see him equal Modi's record of three consecutive poll victories. In that case, his supporters will feel better to back him for the top post.
But with the land scam allegations revealed now, it might not be the same again for those who back Chouhan. Advani, for instance, has been vocal about the party's compromise with corruption in Karnataka where according to him, the BJP lost badly because it did not take a stern action against former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa after corruption charges were levelled against him.
A few days ago, he praised Chouhan during a visit to MP, saying he found a shadow of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Chouhan for the latter was not only a good administrator but a polite individual as well. According to some observers, it was a statement made to target Modi. Chouhan had also hailed Advani as the tallest leader once.
Now, it will be interesting to see how Advani maintains his moral high ground as far as the allegations against Chouhan are concerned. The Gujarat CM has a clean image and has a big backing in the party. His popularity in the party was evident when the BJP hit back at Union minister Kapil Sibal after the latter warned that he would carry an expose of Modi. No such reaction has been visible in case of Chouhan so far.
Whether Modi benefits from the allegations against Chouhan is for time to tell, but there is no denying the fact that if indeed one leader benefits at the cost of another in the same party, it is a poor state of affairs.