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Mohan Yadav’s development plan moves away from Chouhan’s populism

NewsMohan Yadav’s development plan moves away from Chouhan’s populism

NEW DELHI: Mohan Yadav is concentrating on bringing investments and jobs to Madhya Pradesh.

When Madhya Pradesh finance minister Jagdish Devda rose to present the inaugural budget under Chief Minister Mohan Yadav in Bhopal on Wednesday, it was the first instance since November 2005—except for the July 2019 budget that was presented by a Congress led government—that the state financial plan was not devised under the directions of former Chief Minister and now union minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

Due to this, the inaugural budget of Yadav was being awaited with great anticipation, as it was expected to reveal the extent of Chouhan’s lingering influence over both Yadav and the state bureaucracy.

Political observers both in Bhopal and Delhi were looking at the budget to discern whether Yadav would assert his own distinct vision for the state or continue along the path laid down by his predecessor and hence it was not being viewed just as a financial document, but as a political statement that would reveal the true nature of the transition of power in Madhya Pradesh.

The budget speech and document, became more important since it was coming after Chouhan was appointed in the key position of Union Agriculture Minister and a recent speech by his son Kartikeya Singh Chouhan, a law graduate from University of Pennsylvania Law School and someone who is seen by those who are close to the family as the political successor of Chouhan, had gone viral.

Kartikey, last month made bold claims about his father’s growing national influence following his landslide Lok Sabha election victory and entry into the Union cabinet. Speaking to BJP workers in his father’s home constituency of Budhni, Kartikey asserted that “Delhi is bowing” to the former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister. He went on to claim that his father’s popularity has surged even more since leaving the role of Chief Minister, and that he is now counted among the biggest leaders from “Kashmir to Kanyakumari.” These led to Congress MLA Umang Singhar and leader of opposition claiming that junior Chouhan was projecting Shivraj a bigger national leader than Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Former MP Chief Minister and Congress Rajya Sabha member Digvijaya Singh too suggested that if Shivraj’s popularity is truly nationwide, BJP leaders should consider promoting him as the country’s Prime Minister.

On Wednesday, Devda, while presenting the Rs 3 lakh 65 thousand 67 crore budget, which is 16%more than the one presented in 2023 (Rs 3.14 lakh crore), said that the main aim was increasing capital investment, expansion of road network, irrigation and electricity facilities, quality health facilities, attracting investment for employment generation and good governance in the state; clearly a different path from the series of populist measures that was the hallmark of Chouhan’s almost 18-year rule.

However, the “Ladli Behna Yojna”, the flagship scheme of Chouhan government that was launched ahead of the 2023 Assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh and is credited with ensuring the win of BJP in the 2023 Assembly polls, got the largest allocation of Rs 18,984 crore among the welfare schemes being undertaken by the government. Similarly, another women welfare scheme, CM Laxmi Yojana, received the second biggest allocation of Rs 17,596 crore among the welfare schemes.

However, the fact that the financial assistance of Rs 12,50 per month that is given to women from poor households under this scheme was kept the same, was not missed by observers. Before the Assembly elections and during the Lok Sabha campaign, Chouhan had announced that he would increase it to Rs 3,000 per month once he comes to power.
Party sources and government officials told The Sunday Guardian that Yadav’s main focus is to bring more investment to the state, create a conducive business environment for investment and make Madhya Pradesh on par with developed states on social and health parameters so that people do not have to be solely dependent on the government.

“That is why the health sector received an allocation of Rs 21,444 crore which is 34% more than the allocation in the last year’s budget of Rs 16,055 crore. Similarly, Rs 53,460 crore have been allocated for infrastructural development in the state and Rs 44,588 crore have been given for rural and urban development. More importantly, the education sector comprising primary education, higher education, technical education has been given a significant rise in its allocation—of Rs 40,065 crore this time from Rs 38,375 crore in FY 23-24. The allocation includes Rs 2,737 crore to construct new buildings for 150 CM Rise Schools. We have allotted Rs 4,191 crore to create employment opportunities in the state, this was Rs 3,014 crore in the last budget,” said a source who was involved in the deliberations regarding the economic policy that Yadav would adopt.

Similarly, 730 schools have been identified under the PM Shri scheme for improving education quality and resources. 2,000 new posts will be created in Prime Minister Colleges of Excellence. As per a reply submitted by the Union Government in the Rajya Sabha in February last year, as per the 2011 census, 31.65% population of Madhya Pradesh or 2.34 crore of the 7.27 crore total population were living under Below Poverty Line.

Officials said that one more reason for staying away from excessive populist announcement or “revadi” culture was that the polls in the state were now more than four years away and Yadav believes that it he is able to bring investments and jobs by then it will automatically stop people from depending on government freebies and hence he decided not to take the “easy route” of announcing more freebies or increasing the monthly stipend under the Ladli Behen Yojana.

According to an RSS functionary working in the state, the budget has set the tone for what Yadav’s governance vision will be—focusing on development and infrastructure while maintaining social welfare commitments.He pointed out that despite Yadav government’s budget being 16% larger than the previous government, Yadav’s government has not continued many of Chouhan’s schemes. Moreover, many announcements from the previous budget are not mentioned in this one. For instance, the Chouhan government had included schemes like one lakh government jobs and e-scooters for girls passing Class 12 with first division in their final budget. This is missing from this budget.

Another important element that is missing from the budget is the “Learn-Earn scheme”, which provided internships for 12th, diploma, and graduate students. The previous government had also announced stipends based on qualifications under that scheme.
Instead, Mohan’s government has decided to open 22 new it is, while adding that Dewas, Dhar, and Chhindwara will be developed as Green Skilling ITIs, starting solar technician and electric vehicle mechanic courses. As per the new budget, farmers will get Rs 1500 crore more for crop loans compared to the previous government. Shivraj’s government gave 19,946 crore as loans to farmers in 2023-24.

The cow protection budget has been increased by 76%. In the previous budget, this amount was Rs 335 crore. It has now been increased to Rs 590 crore.
“The increased emphasis on infrastructure, digital initiatives, and alignment with central government schemes indicates that Yadav is attempting to differentiate his governance style from Chouhan’s more populist approach. This is good for the larger interest of the state and will help the citizens in the longer run,” the RSS source added.
Of the total budget, the primary focus is on infrastructure development, with 15% of the budget allocated to this sector with a heavy emphasis on roads, bridges, and urban development. Devda has promised to complete and build six expressways by the time the next election is announced.

Yadav has also ensured that the religious sentiments of BJP’s core voters too is given importance. Rs 1,081 crore has been allocated to the Culture Department under “Ram Path Gaman” and “Krishna Pathey Yojana”, which will explore the Shri Krishna Path in the state and preserve and promote the literature, culture and traditions of the related areas.
Chouhan was known for his association with the religious belief of Lord Ram and Yadav has now given a separate budget for Lord Krisha. Yadavs traditionally consider themselves as descendants of the Yadava clan, to which Lord Krishna belonged.

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