“All political lives, unless they are cut off in midstream at a happy juncture, end in failure, because that is the nature of politics and of human affairs,” said British politician Enoch Powell.
If you cover politics and politicians long enough, the truth of Powell’s statement becomes evident. Politics at the top level is ruthless and takes no prisoners.
A current example is Shivraj Singh Chauhan, the multiple-term Chief Minister (CM) of Madhya Pradesh, India, who is currently campaigning for the upcoming elections and frequently breaks down in tears during public meetings.
In one emotional moment, he says, “You will miss your ‘mama’ (Chauhan is universally called ‘mamajee’ or ‘uncle’ in MP) when I am gone because I have only worked for you.”
Chauhan's time's up?
In his own constituency of Budhni, which he has represented for years, he asks, “Should I fight the elections or not? Should I fight from here or not?”
The crowds, who have seen Chauhan for years and enjoy the privileges of having a Chief Minister as their representative, resoundingly answer “yes.” Chauhan smiles, but then the tears flow. (The BJP has fielded Chauhan from his traditional Budhni constituency)
A senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader who has always disliked Chauhan says, “He should stop this farewell and leave-taking tour. It’s making the BJP look bad, which seems to be his intention.”
From being one of the top contenders for the post of Prime Minister as a second-generation leader of the BJP, Chauhan now faces near political oblivion, still hoping for divine intervention
After the BJP unseated Digvijaya Singh and the Congress party, and Uma Bharti became the CM, Chauhan, with the backing of the BJP’s top brass, unseated her in a similarly ruthless fashion.
For the BJP, politics has come full circle in MP, as the top two leaders, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, have almost decided that if the BJP returns in MP, Chauhan won’t be the CM.
Modi, in his public meetings in MP, has almost publicly snubbed Chauhan, leaving no room for doubt. The fielding of central ministers in MP is also a signal to Chauhan that his time is up.
In an earlier phase of the BJP, Chauhan could do no wrong. Always smiling and projecting humility, he cultivated the support of BJP founder L.K. Advani and the late Pramod Mahajan, who ensured he replaced Bharti as CM.
At one point, Advani used to compare Modi and Chauhan as the two ideal BJP CMs when discussing the party’s depth of leadership.
A significant shift
To convey his disdain for Modi, Advani always hyphenated him with Chauhan. This did not sit well with Modi, who understood the political intent behind it as a clear checkpoint to his PM ambitions.
Chauhan failed to gauge the political climate within the BJP and publicly aligned himself with team Advani and Sushma Swaraj in 2014 to oppose Modi’s projection as the BJP’s PM face. The rest is the political history of Modi’s ascent as the most powerful BJP leader ever.
Previously, Chauhan used to hold Iftar parties in Bhopal during Ramadan. Now his politics is inspired by Yogi Adityanath and the bulldozer.
Despite this significant shift, for the longest time he was unable to even announce his candidacy for the upcoming election.
Near political oblivion
The BJP has made it clear to the MP voters that it is going into the battle for the key state with only Modi’s face. No leader among the warring factions of BJP leaders will be projected as the CM face.
On the other hand, the Congress is projecting Kamalnath as the CM face. Kamalnath frequently takes public jabs at Chauhan and his political predicament, suggesting that he’s bidding farewell to politics in every meeting.
The buzz is that Yashodhara Raje Scindia has given up her constituency Shivpuri for her nephew Jyotiraditya Scindia. Eight Scindia loyalists have been given BJP tickets. All this makes the writing on the wall stark for Chauhan.
From being one of the top contenders for the post of Prime Minister as a second-generation leader of the BJP, Chauhan now faces near political oblivion, still hoping for divine intervention.