November 19, 2023

Madhya Pradesh: Sick under BJP Rule

MADHYA Pradesh is a state ruled longest by the BJP after Gujarat. The BJP has ruled the state from 2002 till now with a one and a half year interruption of a Congress government (which was toppled through defections). During the assembly election campaign, union home minister, Amit Shah, has claimed that the BJP has turned Madhya Pradesh from a bimaru (sick) state to a bemisaal (incomparable) state in the last 18 years.

After having ruled the state for such a long time, the BJP has to justify its record.  That is why a host of BJP leaders, apart from Amit Shah, like Nirmala Sitharaman and Rajnath Singh have been declaring that Madhya Pradesh has ceased to be a sick state and become an “unmatched” one. 

The BIMARU tag was attached to the Hindi region states of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh to underline their economic backwardness and low level of social indicators. It is this categorisation of Madhya Pradesh that the BJP now disowns by declaring that the state has made rapid progress under BJP rule.

But what is the reality?  Madhya Pradesh’s economic performance is among the worst in the country. In 1993-94, the state ranked 19 out of 27 states in per capita net state domestic product.  However, this rose by only two spots to 17 in 2021-22.  As per the Niti Aayog, over half the population in the state belongs to the lowest two wealth quintiles. As far as education is concerned, in 2020, Madhya Pradesh ranked 20 of the 30 states on indicators such as enrollment in elementary, higher secondary and college level education. 

Madhya Pradesh’s rank in social indicators is also low.  For instance, in 2019-21, Madhya Pradesh had 35.7 per cent stunted children and ranked 25 out of 30 states.  The state’s ranking in the parameter of underweight children improved only by two spots (28 to 26) between 2015-16 and 2019-21. The overall low social ranking of Madhya Pradesh is indicated by its rank in the Human Development Index (HDI), where it was at the 27th position out of 30 states in 2021.

If the socio-economic indicators continue to languish in the bottom half of the list of states, the overall impact of the communal-corporate regime that the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government has instituted shows deleterious results.  The state has seen the loot of national resources with indiscriminate mining allowed. The latest is the Dhirauli coal mining lease given to the Adani group which is spread over 2,672 hectares of forests, fields and villages.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), Madhya Pradesh had the highest number of cases recorded of atrocities against Scheduled Tribes in 2021, accounting for 29.8 per cent of the total cases recorded in the country. It also had the third highest number of cases recorded of atrocities against Scheduled Castes with 14.1 per cent of the cases. 

The Hindutva agenda, which has been vigorously pursued particularly in the current term of the BJP government beginning 2019, has seen vicious attacks on the minorities.  The attacks on Muslim vendors in Indore and the demolition of the houses of Muslims in Khargone are some of the instances of persecution of the minorities. Even Christian places of worships have not been spared. 

All told, the nature of the communal-corporate regime in Madhya Pradesh has only led to the perpetuation of the `bimaru’ state of affairs, a society which is infected by the communal pathogen and marked by the naked oppression of dalits, adivasis and minorities. 

This is a record which is causing great disaffection among the people and it will be reflected in the verdict when Madhya Pradesh goes to the polls on November 17. 


(November 15, 2023)