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Shivraj Chouhan is now BJP CM with longest time spent in chair, beating Raman Singh’s record

On Thursday, Shivraj Singh Chouhan marked 15 years and 11 days in office. He first became CM in 2005 and served till 2018, before coming back to power in 2020.

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New Delhi: Madhya Pradesh’s Shivraj Singh Chouhan Thursday became the longest-serving BJP chief minister in terms of total time spent in office. Thursday marked 15 years and 11 days for him in the chair, which beats the record of 15 years and 10 days set by Chhattisgarh’s former CM Raman Singh.

“Raman Singh — who served as Chhattisgarh CM between 7 December 2003 and 17 December 2018 — held the post for 15 years and 10 days. Chouhan broke Raman Singh’s record on 17 March,” a senior BJP leader told ThePrint.

Numerous BJP leaders issued congratulatory tweets addressed to Chouhan on the day, including MP BJP media in-charge Lokendra Parashar and former state mining corporation chief Govind Maloo.

Chouhan is the first BJP politician to serve as chief minister of MP four times. He is also the only leader who became CM during the BJP’s Atal Bihari Vajpayee-L.K. Advani era and is still in power.

However, Chouhan’s number is far short of some current CMs. Odisha’s Naveen Patnaik has been serving as CM for 22 years (consecutively), while Bihar CM Nitish Kumar has completed more than 15 years (non-consecutive) and Nagaland CM Neiphiu Rio about 15 years (non-consecutive).

The list of longest-serving chief ministers in India’s history include Sikkim’s Pawan Kumar Chamling (more than 24 years), West Bengal’s Jyoti Basu (more than 23 years) and Arunachal Pradesh’s Gegong Apang (22 years, non-consecutive).

Chouhan’s rise

Chouhan took oath as Madhya Pradesh CM for the first time in November 2005, after being chosen as the party’s chief ministerial candidate by the BJP’s parliamentary board. Chouhan replaced fellow BJP leader Babulal Gaur.

Chouhan’s selection as CM candidate drew the ire of senior leader Uma Bharati, who attacked senior party leader Advani for the selection. This led to her expulsion from the BJP for a period of six years. Bharati, a former MP chief minister herself, had harboured ambitions for the post herself and left the BJP ahead of the 2008 assembly elections in MP. She returned to the BJP in 2011.

“Bharati’s ouster from the party created a vacuum in the state leadership and it also worked for Chouhan, as he used this opportunity to emerge as a tall leader. Since then there has been no turning back,” said a senior leader who did not wish to be identified.

Also read: ‘Threw stone at liquor bottles to save women’s dignity’ — Uma Bharti sends signal to BJP bosses

The ‘Mama’ phenomenon

According to a senior BJP leader, Chouhan got the oft-used moniker ‘Mama’ (maternal uncle) due to a number of women-centric welfare schemes launched by his government. These include the Ladli Laxmi Yojana (a financial scheme to benefit girls), the distribution of cycles to girls, and the Kanya Vivah Scheme.

The Madhya Pradesh CM is also credited with having initiated a number of welfare schemes  for students, young entrepreneurs, farmers and widows, including the Mukhyamantri Medhavi Vidyarthi Yojana (for meritorious students), Deen Dayal Rasoi scheme (for subsidised meals for the underprivileged) and the Mukhyamantri Awas Yojana (housing).

Chouhan resigned as CM when the BJP lost the 2018 assembly elections to the Congress. However, he returned to office in March 2020, after Jyotiraditya Scindia quit the Congress to join the BJP and brought 22 MLAs with him.

MP is scheduled to hold assembly elections next year, and there had been talk last year that the party needed to find an alternative CM face before that, owing to Chouhan’s long tenure in office.

But Chouhan managed a landslide victory in the bypolls last year, which has further strengthened his position in the party.

“In November 2020, when Chouhan won the by-elections with a landslide victory, he silenced his detractors and also infused new life into state politics. There were talks of replacing him, which seem unlikely so far. Those who want to replace him always spread such rumours,” said a senior BJP leader.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

(This report has been updated to correct the fact that Govind Maloo was not a former minister, but chief of the state mining corporation, a post which carries minister of state rank.)

Also read: How to spread happiness with little money? MP govt dept is doing it with bhajans & ‘sanskar’


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