MP: BJP retaining power, Raghavji issue, stampede make news

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Bhopal, Dec 27: Shivraj Singh Chouhan led BJP to a thumping win in the assembly elections in 2013, which saw several ministers from his previous regime in the news for wrong reasons and a deadly stampede near a temple during Navratri festivities.

This year will go down in the history of Madhya Pradesh for BJP's third successive win in assembly polls since 2003. Prior to 2003, no non-Congress government had ever completed a full five-year term in the state. On December 14, Chouhan was sworn in as Chief Minister for third consecutive term.

Before the elections, a number of ministers of the previous government courted controversy on several issues. In January, Kailash Vijaywargiya was at the centre of a controversy over his remark that women must not cross the 'Lakshman rekha' to avoid unwanted consequences.

An embarrassed BJP disassociated itself from his comment, which sparked an outrage, and asked him to withdraw the remark. In February, another minister Kunwar Vijay Shah set off a controversy saying the government will set up hostels for girls only if students and their parents give a written undertaking that they will take care of their security.

The statement drew strong criticism from political parties and the National Commission for Women. In April, the then Tribal Welfare Minister Vijay Shah tendered his resignation after courting a major controversy over his alleged sexist remarks. He had allegedly also made a passing reference to Sadhna Singh, wife of the Chief Minister, during a speech.

But the most embarrassing of them all was the arrest of the then Finance Minister Raghavji on charges of sodomy. The 79-year-old leader was earlier forced to resign after his male servant filed a police complaint accusing him of sexual exploitation.

A stampede during Navratri festivities near a temple in Datia district triggered by rumours that a river bridge the devotees were crossing was about to collapse left 115 people dead.

This year will go down in the history of MP for BJP's third successive win.

The state government ordered a judicial inquiry into the mishap which was a shocking re-run of the tragedy at the same site in 2006 when 50 pilgrims were washed away.

Congress suffered a setback during the monsoon session of the state assembly when the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Choudhary Rakesh Singh Chaturvedi left the party just before a discussion on the no-confidence motion against the BJP government. His younger brother, Choudhary Mukesh Singh Chaturvedi won on BJP ticket in the assembly elections from the Mehgaon constituency in the Bhind district.

Congress, before the elections, made a bizarre demand, asking the Election Commission to "hide" lotus ponds in Mahakoshal, Malwa and Bundelkhand regions of the state so that voters are not unfairly drawn to the BJP symbol. The demand was rejected outright by the MP Chief Electoral Officer, Jaideep Govind who said it was "neither practical nor feasible".

Before the assembly elections, there was another setback for Congress when its MP from Hoshangabad constituency, Rao Udai Pratap Singh, left the party and joined BJP. The year also brought shame to the state when a Swiss woman was gangraped. In an unusual development, Governor Ram Naresh Yadav in July advised the state government to convene a special session of the Assembly to complete the unfinished business of the House.

Yadav's communication to the government came after the House was adjourned sine die amid din over no-confidence motion. In August, a girl student of a pharmacy college allegedly committed suicide after being ragged by her seniors and a faculty member. Four of her seniors, all girls, and the faculty member were arrested after the incident.

In October, in a daring pre-dawn jailbreak amid a hail of gunfire, seven hardcore members of the banned SIMI, accused of heinous crimes including murder, escaped from prison after stabbing two security guards, looting rifles and snatching wireless sets.

PTI

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