Not fully a Congress govt

Ka­mal Nath does not seem to have bro­ken free from the legacy he has in­her­ited

Business Standard - - POLITICS & PUBLIC AFFAIRS - SAN­DEEP KU­MAR PANDEY

When Ka­mal Nath was ap­pointed Mad­hya Pradesh Pradesh Congress Com­mit­tee pres­i­dent in April last year, there was a ques­tion on ev­ery­body’s mind whether the warhorse would be able to lead the party in the as­sem­bly polls. He did and his party won.

Im­me­di­ately af­ter tak­ing the oath of of­fice on De­cem­ber 17, Nath waived farm loans of up to ~2 lakh as promised by his party in its elec­tion man­i­festo.

In less than two months in of­fice, the Nath govern­ment has taken sev­eral propeo­ple de­ci­sions. Af­ter the debt waiver, it amended the in­dus­trial pol­icy and as­sured 70 per cent of jobs for the lo­cal youth, and promised to pro­vide 100 days’ em­ploy­ment to the ur­ban youth un­der the Yuva Swamib­han Yo­jana.

Af­ter this, how­ever, the govern­ment faced some hic­cups. Lack of com­mu­ni­ca­tion was ev­i­dent in some of its pre­lim­i­nary de­ci­sions where it was forced to go into re­verse.

Three about-turns

It sus­pended the tra­di­tion of singing Vande Mataram on the first day of ev­ery month. When crit­i­cised by the BJP, Nath said the prac­tice would con­tinue in an al­tered form.

The new govern­ment put on hold the pay­ment of pen­sion to those who were de­tained un­der the Main­te­nance of In­ter­nal Se­cu­rity Act dur­ing the Emer­gency. The scheme was launched by the BJP govern­ment. Upon fierce op­po­si­tion, the govern­ment said it had merely or­dered ver­i­fy­ing those de­tained un­der the Act to en­sure only the gen­uine ones re­ceived the pen­sion.

The same was the case with the Bhawan­tar Bhug­tan Yo­jana (now called the price deficit scheme). While Nath was in Davos to at­tend the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum’s meet­ing, state Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Sachin Ya­dav said the govern­ment had de­cided to scrap the scheme be­cause it was harm­ful for farm­ers. How­ever, af­ter for­mer chief min­is­ter Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s protest and the in­ter­ven­tion of Nath, Ya­dav is say­ing dis­crep­an­cies in the scheme would be re­moved and a scheme, more ben­e­fi­cial to farm­ers, would be brought in.

On the ad­min­is­tra­tive front As of­ten hap­pens in In­dia, an ad­min­is­tra­tive reshuf­fle was ex­pected af­ter the regime change but it hap­pened in a grad­ual man­ner. The ap­point­ment of Sud­hir Ran­jan Mohanty, a 1982 batch IAS of­fi­cer, as chief sec­re­tary was one such move. Mohanty is con­sid­ered close to for­mer CM Digvi­jaya Singh. The close­ness of Nath and Singh is no se­cret.

An­other key de­ci­sion was to re­move Rishi Ku­mar Shukla from the post of di­rec­tor gen­eral of po­lice and make him the chief of the MP Po­lice Hous­ing Board. Later of course the cen­tral govern­ment ap­pointed him di­rec­tor of the Cen­tral Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion (CBI).

A highly-placed source in the CM Of­fice said: “There are some 300 se­nior of­fi­cers in the state. The CM has to work with them only.”

Po­lit­i­cal front

Nath, who is tech­ni­cally run­ning a mi­nor­ity govern­ment with the help of in­de­pen­dent MLAs and those of small par­ties, has been bold and vo­cal as re­gards his op­po­nents. When asked about the BJP try­ing to poach Congress MLAs, Nath replied at least four BJP MLAs were in touch with him. Ac­cord­ing to sources, at least two BJP MLAs are will­ing to va­cate their seats for his can­di­da­ture in the As­sem­bly. When­ever in Bhopal, Nath stays in of­fice till all hours. This is in stark con­trast to his pre­de­ces­sor, Chouhan. Chouhan used to sit in the of­fice for only a few hours. A source close to Nath said: “Nath’s func­tion­ing is more of a cor­po­rate na­ture. He sets aims and tries to achieve them.”

Po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst Gir­ija Shankar pro­vides a dif­fer­ent take on the govern­ment’s work cul­ture. He said, “It seems the govern­ment is in a set­tling-down phase and con­fused. Till now the govern­ment has been fol­low­ing the BJP agenda and that too in an ex­plicit man­ner.” He said: “The or­der to open 1,000

gausha­las (cow shel­ters) at the ear­li­est, in­vok­ing the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Act (NSA) against three per­sons for al­leged cow slaugh­ter, ex­tend­ing the Mukhya­mantri Teerth­dar­shan Yo­jana for Kumbh in Prayagraj, tre­bling the hon­o­rar­ium of tem­ple priests are some of such moves.”

State Congress Spokesper­son Pankaj Chaturvedi de­nies these al­le­ga­tions. “We be­lieve in the Sanatana tra­di­tion and the mat­ters re­lated to cows were al­ways pri­or­ity for us and will re­main so.”

Mad­hya Pradesh Chief Min­is­ter Ka­mal Nath with Congress Pres­i­dent Rahul Gandhi and party leader Jy­oti­ra­ditya Scin­dia at a re­cent rally

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