Chouhan, who was not appointed Madhya Pradesh chief minister after BJP's landslide victory in last year's assembly polls, thanked PM Modi for the new opportunity.
After registering a resounding victory in Madhya Pradesh, the ruling BJP has shown that even though elections are contested every five years, their expected outcome can be changed in just six months through dogged labour, meticulous strategy and organisational strength.
On their part, the people of MP have also sent out a convincing message that there can be a strong undercurrent of pro-incumbency voting too in an election.
Internal surveys conducted till July this year by the BJP, and more importantly the RSS, had clearly indicated that the party was facing trouble in MP, particularly due to anti-incumbency, fatigue and internal strife.
Hearing alarm bells ring, the BJP’s Central leadership and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan immediately started working overtime to take corrective measures.
Chouhan had already announced on his 65th birthday on 5 March this year the launch of the ‘Laadli Behna Yojana’ for 21 to 60-year-old women in the state. He had understood that women power could prove a decisive factor in the assembly polls in November and the ‘Laadli Behna Yojana’ would be the game changer.
From 10 June onwards, Rs 1,000 started coming into the accounts of nearly 1.25 crore beneficiary women of the ‘Laadli Behna Yojana’. That was the point from where Mr Chouhan began the process of turning the tide in his and the BJP’s favour.
He gradually increased the monthly benefit amount to the present Rs 1,250 and also relaxed the age limit norms of the scheme, enabling 18-year-old women also to become beneficiaries. This took the women beneficiaries’ number up to the present 1.31 crore.
There were 2.72 crore registered women voters in MP in these assembly polls out of which the ‘Laadli Behna’ voters were 1.31 crore.
When the BJP released its manifesto for the MP Assembly polls, the party also promised to provide pucca houses to the ‘Laadli Behna’ beneficiaries.
On the last day of campaigning on 15 November, which was the festival of Bhai Dooj, CM Chouhan played his final trump card and announced that when the BJP forms the government again, he would launch a ‘Lakhpati Behna Yojana’. He said that through the scheme, the beneficiary women would be ensured an income of at least Rs 10,000 per month, which is more than Rs one lakh annually.
All this while, the BJP’s organisational leadership had also been doing its work on the ground to strengthen the party’s position. Union Home Minister Amit Shah took the reins of the BJP’s campaign strategy into his own hands and held several meetings.
Not to leave any stone unturned, the BJP launched the ‘mera booth, sabse mazboot’ exercise on the directions of PM Narendra Modi.
Not only that, the party went into such minute details as appointing ‘panna pramukhs’ (page in-charge) across all polling booths of the state. According to BJP organisational leaders, the responsibility of each ‘panna pramukh’ was to ensure that voters listed on each page of the voters’ list were contacted personally and brought to the polling booth to cast their vote on 17 November.
To a great extent, this exercise played its part in giving BJP a record 48.6 per cent vote share in these polls. This is the highest ever vote share by any party, since MP was divided into MP and Chhattisgarh in 2001.
The Opposition Congress managed a vote share of 40.5 per cent in these polls.
However, the BJP went into these polls without any a CM face and weaved its poll campaign around the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This proved extremely fruitful for the party, as the PM addressed 14 poll rallies across the state, sometimes three in a day. He also held a road show at Indore on the penultimate day of campaigning, which was attended by lakhs of people.
At the same time, CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan launched his hard work into top gear and somehow managed to squeeze in 30 hours of work into a 24-hour day.
He held the highest number of election rallies, 166, and succeeded in making a point against detractors by spearheading his campaign around his government’s schemes, especially ‘Laadli Behna Yojana’, and making an emotional connect with voters.
Subsequently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s charismatic leadership, Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s strategic prowess and Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s untiring hard-work and his masterstroke of the ‘Laadli Behna Yojana’ led the BJP to a landslide victory on 163 out of the 230 assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh.
After the results came out on 3 December, Chouhan asserted, “There was no anti-incumbency in MP, only pro-incumbency.”
Now, Shivraj Singh Chouhan is a favourite to take oath as the Chief Minister for the fifth time in MP. The results have proved that he spearheaded the party’s campaign.
The Lok Sabha polls are barely six months away and Chouhan’s face is definitely going to play a big role in benefitting the BJP. Nonetheless, the BJP high command will take the final decision on who would be the next chief minister of Madhya Pradesh.