Bhopal: Shivraj Singh Chouhan returned Monday as chief minister of Madhya Pradesh for the fourth time, over 15 months after his government was voted out of power. The 61-year-old BJP leader was sworn in by Governor Lalji Tandon at Raj Bhawan here at 9.00pm.
Chouhan was earlier in the day elected leader of the state BJP legislature party at its meeting here.
Due to the coronavirus situation, no BJP leader from Delhi travelled to here for the legislature party meeting, though the party’s central observers Arun Singh and Vinay Sahasrabuddhe participated through video conferencing.
Popularly known among his followers as ‘Mamaji’, Chouhan was sworn in chief minister of Madhya Pradesh thrice earlier – 2005, after Uma Bharti stepped down over a riots case, and for later two full terms in 2008 and 2013. He resigned after the Congress won a narrow majority in the December 2018 Assembly elections, after which the Kamal Nath government came to power.
Stumped by the rebellion of party colleague Jyodiraditya Scindia, who joined the BJP and resignations of 22 Congress MLAs, Nath resigned as chief minister last week, paving way for Chouhan’s return.
A leader with wide mass appeal and known for his humility, Chouhan is the most popular BJP face in Madhya Pradesh.
BJP legislators elected Chouhan, a mild-mannered politician, as their leader given his vast experience and ability to take everybody along.
Scindia described Chouhan as ‘Kabhi na thaknewalaneta’ (A leader who never gets tired), while addressing BJP workers here soon after joining the saffron party a few days ago.
From being called ‘paon paon wale bhaiya’ (foot soldier) by villagers to being addressed as ‘Mama’ (maternal uncle) by children, Chouhan’s long innings at the top was interrupted when the BJP fell short of seven seats from the majority mark in the 2018 polls.
The Congress, which too could not breach the majority mark, quickly moved to stitch a majority with the help of BSP, SP and Independent MLAs, ending its 15-year-long wait for power in the key Hindi heartland state.
However, despite having a veteran like Nath at the helm, the Congress could not save its government paving the way for Chouhan’s return.