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This is what Rahul Gandhi can learn from Shivraj Singh Chouhan

Shivraj Singh Chouhan was voted out as MP CM last year. But he quickly came into his own as a proactive opposition leader, while Rahul Gandhi is still sulking.

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Bhopal: Former chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan of the BJP is back in action, hitting the streets to corner the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh and re-building his political brand that took a hit in the assembly elections last year.

Over the past three weeks, he has held protests and led candlelight marches over incidents of rape and murder and targeted the government over power outage and various other issues.

It’s a role reversal for Chouhan, who was in power for 13 years until last December, when he was ousted by the Kamal Nath-led Congress.

His defeat in the polls was followed by a sidelining in the party as BJP president Amit Shah chose not to make him the leader of the opposition in the assembly and brought him to Delhi as national vice-president, a relatively ceremonial post.

Earlier this month, he was appointed head of the party’s membership drive, an important assignment from the organisational point of view but not exactly one of political heft. Chouhan has nevertheless pounced on the opportunity to travel across states to boost the drive and enhance his national profile.

It is, however, his role as an opposition leader in Madhya Pradesh that has caught his party colleagues’ eyes.

Also read: Rahul Gandhi says he’s not involved in the process to pick new Congress chief

On the streets

On 21 June, a day after the state government ordered a judicial inquiry into the death of a 26-year-old property dealer who had allegedly been beaten by police, Chouhan met the bereaved family and organised a protest, demanding a CBI inquiry.

“People will take to the streets if an FIR is not filed against the accused policemen within seven days,” he warned.

On 9 June, he hit the streets in protest after the body of a minor girl, who had allegedly been raped, was found in a drain close to her house in Bhopal’s Kamla Nagar.

The next day, a Monday, Chouhan visited the family in the morning and, in the evening, led BJP leaders in a candlelight march in the city over the rising incidence of rape in the state and police’s “insensitive attitude”.

When schools reopened on 23 June after the summer vacation, “Mama”, as Chouhan is fondly known among admirers, wished students, whom he referred to as “bhanje-bhanjion (nephews and nieces)”, all the best and urged them to focus on studies and respect teachers.

Two days ago, Chouhan took a swipe at Nath by retweeting a viral picture that suggested the CM’s photo-op with an elderly woman was a bad photoshop job.

On Tuesday, he was in Budhni for a mass wedding.


No sulking

Chouhan’s activism as an opposition leader is in sharp contrast to Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s angry and sulking response to his defeat in the Lok Sabha elections.

Instead of learning a lesson from his defeat and going to the people to re-connect with them, Gandhi has chosen an easier route, offering to resign as party president, a move that stopped all talks about his accountability for the defeat.

The past month has witnessed a chorus by Gandhi-Nehru family loyalists beseeching him to withdraw his offer.

Not to speak of hitting the roads to mobilise the people, Gandhi hasn’t even gone back to Amethi after losing the pocketborough to the BJP’s Smriti Irani. The Congress president could take a leaf or two from Shivraj Chouhan’s book on how to do politics as an opposition leader.

Also read: 10 lessons from Jagan Mohan Reddy’s campaign for Rahul Gandhi


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  1. 1. Only qualification of Rahul Gandhi’s ‘election’ as Congress President was he is grandson of Smt. Indira Gandhi and son of Smt Sonia Gandhi. 2. We citizen-voters who are not attached to any political party wish to know whether Rahul Gandhi and his team would show courage to own-up mistakes like describing PM Modi as “chor” made during last few months. Does Congress President realize that how the citizen-voters’ have responded to his insensitive criticism of PM Narendra Modi? I wonder whether he has. This I am saying on basis of his recent speeches in Kerala and elsewhere. 3. Fact is that there are now fewer and fewer takers for Congress party with its so-called secular agenda and vague economic agenda. 4. I believe that the Congress party has a future as a centrist (to be precise, left of the centre) political party and the citizen-voters too wish that the Congress should reorganize to become such a centrist party. More importantly, it should reconsider its secular agenda which depends too much on minority voters for survival- this I suppose is an important lesson of 2019 LS election results. 5. Would today’s Congress leadership be able to make a break from the past and grow? Let us hope that senior Congress leaders do some a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis of the organization and take remedial steps to move out their party from the current pathetic situation.

  2. Raga is dynasty suffering from the syndrome of entitlement. He believes that he is a prime ministerial stuff. So there is no question of learning anything from anyone. The poll debacle in 2014 gave him an opportunity to set things in right perspective but he squandered the chance. He was flattered to receive by his own people. The connect with the people was completely missing resulting into a crushing defeat in 2019. He is yet to make amends. This is democracy where one needs to make the voters feel that he is one among them. Leaders like Shiva Singh Chauhan is of different breed. They rose from humble background working tirelessly at the grassroot level. Moreover one needs to accept defeat and work accordingly. The former CM quickly learnt and is back among the people.

  3. His Holy Highhandedness was born with a silver foot in his mouth! It was destined by his mother and family name that he should win. So it is extremely unfair to target him when he didn’t. Let him have his holidays, his vipasana in peace.

  4. There is nothing that Rahul Gandhi can learn from anybody, because he’s probably not capable of learning anything, the guy is way over his head. The old coterie of “fuke hue kartoos:” continue to prop up the family and keep them in the middle of the power structure of a dying party. The next opposition leader in India is going to have to be somebody new, in similar mold like Jai Prakash Naryan. Continued presence of Congress, even in it’s dead and dying state will only hinder the mergence of this new leader wherever that person is today,

  5. The problem with Khongress is that they consider themselves to rule as Kings Queens Prince and Princesses only….. Khongress has never tried to work at ground root level….

  6. A fine leader, both politics and governance. He was CM all through the decade UPA was in power. Despite the presence of several leaders from the state in Delhi, they could do nothing to undermine his popularity, pose any sort of political challenge to him. Even the Assembly loss, after three terms, was by a whisker.

  7. Yes, the author is right but everyone has its own way. How does author know that he is not going to go to Amethi. Did he tell her?

    • Oh, what a lame excuse. This very attitude of the congress and its supporters is making them lose badly and neither Rahul nor his supporters like you seem to have learnt anything. He spent 3 days in Wayanad, but did not care to go to Ameti even after a month.

  8. What we have seen of Shri Rahul Gandhi so far is that he is incapable of learning anything from anybody. It is not for anything that the TIME magazine has called him an “unteachable mediocrity”.

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