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Shivraj orders revamp of schemes & ‘Mama’ image — MLAs to do kanyadaan, youth to go to borders

At a brainstorm meet last weekend, CM instructed ministers to rejig many of MP's welfare schemes like Ladli Laxmi, Kanyadaan & Teerth Darshan, which had earned him 'Mama' nickname.

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New Delhi: ‘Beneficiary politics’ became a big buzzword in political circles during the recently concluded state assembly elections, when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) aggressively promoted its flagship central schemes to woo voters. But in Madhya Pradesh, this has long been the party’s electoral plank, and long-time Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has even got the sobriquet of ‘Mama’ due to public welfare schemes, especially focussing on girls and women.

Chouhan’s schemes brought success for the party in 2008 and 2013 and, to an extent, the 2018 state assembly elections as well, as it finished just five seats behind the Congress and eventually came back to power in 2020.

Now, Chouhan seems to be pressing the reset button on his “emotional connect” with voters, and a thorough rebranding of these schemes, and the ‘Mama’ image, is underway ahead of the 2023 state polls. 

Also Read: ‘UP mein Baba, MP mein Mama’ — Shivraj Chouhan unveils Yogi-style model of governance

Brainstorm in Panchmarhi

At a two-day brainstorming session in picturesque hill station Pachmarhi last weekend, the CM instructed his cabinet to revamp several state government schemes like the Ladli Laxmi Yojana (a financial scheme to benefit girls), the CM Kanyadan Yojana (community marriage scheme which was discontinued due to the pandemic) and the Teerth Darshan Yojana (free pilgrimage scheme). 

The CM has urged local MLAs to participate in ‘kanyadaans’ at the local level, set up ‘Ladli Laxmi’ clubs in every village, and link these clubs to self-help groups, as well as invite their members to state events. 

He also stressed on the need to promote cow-rearing and make people aware of the economic potential of its products, including cow dung, adding that a ‘Gobardhan’ scheme will also be implemented in other cities of the state after the successful operation of a bio-CNG plant at Indore.

Another significant scheme discussed during the brainstorming session was ‘Maa tujhe pranam’ (salutations to mother). Launched in 2013 by the Chouhan government but stopped due to Covid-19, this scheme was aimed at instilling the spirit of patriotism and creating awareness about border security among the youth by sending boys and girls to the country’s borders.

Also part of the discussions were setting up ‘CM Rise’ schools with smart classrooms, ‘Sanjeevani’ clinics for treating common diseases, and veterinary telemedicine.

Madhya Pradesh BJP general secretary Bhagwan Dass said the ‘chintan baithak’ (brainstorming session) was planned to ensure “more synergy for governance outcome and plugging loopholes in schemes”. 

“For a more focussed approach, the party has started its programme for beneficiary mapping, making a list of people who benefitted from central and state schemes. The (party) organisation’s role is to amplify government effort. An early start is better for better results in polls,” Dass told ThePrint.

A state BJP leader who did not wish to be named told added that the “biggest USP” of the Shivraj Chouhan government is its “connect with women voters”. 

“Shivraj started these schemes way back in 2008. Many states emulated the model. Some states have empowered girls by giving out cycles, scholarships, but his Ladli Laxmi was an amplifier scheme to empower girls. More connect is needed to arm them with skills so they get employment as well,” the leader said.

“We have learned from experience that only ensuring that people avail benefits is not enough. Celebration, involvement of the beneficiary in reaching out (to others) is also important. So the focus is now on both so that it can remain in people’s minds for a long time,” he added.

Patriotism, religious tours, revamping ‘Mama’ image  

During the brainstorming session, the council of ministers discussed ideas to rebrand past schemes through modifications and launch more programmes in April to connect with voters.

Home Minister Narottam Mishra made a presentation on the ‘Gobardhan’ scheme. According to party sources, CM Chouhan suggested greater focus on the rearing of cows and the commercial uses of urine and cow dung, on the lines of the Indore model. Last month, PM Modi had inaugurated a bio-CNG plant in Indore. 

The state government purchasing cow dung to encourage more cattle rearing was also discussed.  

Under the ‘Maa tujhe pranam’ scheme, it was decided that youth will travel to border areas with the soil of their village to get inspired by deshbhakti (patriotism).

The popular Ladli Laxmi and Kanyadan schemes will be repackaged. Chouhan said that every village should have a ‘Ladli Laxmi’ club which should be linked to self-help groups that offer training courses in areas like nursing and other skill development. In May, a state-wide festival will be observed to celebrate ‘Ladli Laxmi’ schemes and the state government will provide Rs 1.8 lakh each to unmarried girls when they turn 21.

The second phase of the Ladli Laxmi scheme — which will include the setting up of clubs, skill development and inviting the beneficiaries to state events will start from 2 May, which will be observed as ‘Ladli Laxmi Diwas’ in the state. According to the CM, the scheme has around 43 lakh beneficiaries.

Chouhan also announced that the ‘Teerth Darshan’ scheme, which was stalled for three years due to Covid-19, will be restarted on 18 April, when the entire cabinet will go on a trip to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.

“Four trains will go to Kashi Vishwanath on 18 April. In one train, the chief minister will travel with his council of ministers. The entire cabinet will take a bath in the holy Ganga. They will also visit Kabir Chaura. In the other train, people who have enrolled under the scheme will travel,” home minister Mishra told ThePrint.

Similarly, the Kanya Vivah Yojana, which was also discontinued due to Covid, will be restarted from 21 April. The amount given to beneficiaries will be hiked to Rs 55,000 from the existing Rs 51,000. 

‘CM Rise’ schools & Sanjeevani clinics

During the brainstorming session, the ‘CM Rise School’ scheme was also discussed. Under this scheme, which was announced in 2020, specialised schools will be set up by the state government that are at par with their central government counterparts, and existing state government schools will also be revamped.

It was also announced that Rs 24 crore will be spent on the construction of each ‘CM Rise School’ building, which will be equipped with a library, lab, ‘smart class’ and sports ground. Teaching will begin from 13 June. For a start, 350 such schools have been planned. 

A minister who attended the meeting, told ThePrint on the condition of anonymity: “Mukhya Mantri Sanjeevani clinics will be started in cities with a population of 25,000 from 22 April. A facility for treatment of common diseases will be available here. These clinics will be started in all urban bodies of the state in a year. Due to Covid, the scheme was stuck, but now rollout will begin.”

The BJP leader further said that while the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is not a challenge in the state, the idea of Sanjeevani clinics and CM Rise schools had nothing to do with AAP’s initiatives in Delhi. “It was an original idea of the (MP) government, which was not started due to Covid in 2020,” he added.

Arrangements for veterinary telemedicine for treatment of animals and telephonic consultation facilities for crop diseases will also be launched, and a cyber tehsil system will be established in the state from 1 June. 

A big event will be organised on the birth anniversary of Babasaheb Ambedkar on 14 April.  ‘Kabir Mahakumbh’ and ‘Valmiki Mahakumbh’ will also be organised. 

(Edited by Gitanjali Das)

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


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