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Shashidhar .S. Kapur

When Kamalnath took over what was he expected to achieve , resolve  -immediately, in the first 100 days, six months and one year? In the context of the mandate it was to initiate delivery of  top priority promises made in the rallies , initiate delivery for the next few in the list of  Vachan patra  (Manifesto) within 100 days and six months besides some low hanging  fruits. It was expected that crop loan waiver  ( upto two lakhs would be done immediately ) , some sort of unemployment dole for youth within 100 days , some scheme for women in the  first six months and upgrading the economy in the first year besides initiating the Vidhan Parishad. On the corrective side it was expected that the top scams would be  addressed  ASAP- Vyapam , Mining and Simhastha ; E – tendering , PDS , tree planting- were to  follow suit.Moreover, it was expected that latest by the end of  first year a Vision  of  government and  Policy of every  ministry would be in place.Only then an integrated development with a cohesive approach could be hoped.

At the outset, after the Vidhan Sabha results, it was thought that history may be repeated in selecting the CM but the history creators of the past were history makers of  today. So that didn’t  happen. Subsequently, it was anticipated that there  would be the usual drama for portfolios – that too didn’t happen .Finally, last minute trick of contesting the speaker’s post by BJP to prevent Congress  from playing  its role effectively in Vidhan Sabha too boomeranged.The tables were completely turned on it when Congress snatched away even the deputy speaker’s position.Opening its innings on front foot, ruling party set the tone .

Thus after the first round of  sparring opposition took the hint and changed its  strategy. It too adopted what has  become the norm these days–the scorched  earth tactic– lying low and waiting for the government to make mistakes.

True to the expectations , efforts were made from the word go to change the polity  than merely changing the politicians– from politics of  delivery to politics of performance. Meaning executing more of whatever was promised andless of delivering whatever is demanded ad hoc -populism. Politics was more tactical with both parties in  not- lose :not lose  stance , given the close mandate.It was a cold war at best. Congress tried veering to corporate model than a descendancy / family run enterprise by empowering the regional satraps; BJP attempted quietly to move away from Supremo to Kutumb controlled culture by leadership  collectivisation.

It was attempted to bring in change (Badlaav) in legislation too albeit oddity –by going in for the “rights” approach in everything- from water to health .To our  mind, the organic aspects are  better  served   by “ entitlements”  – the  difference  being that with “rights” a person can seek redresssal”afterwards”-if the due is not given while in an “entitlement” the due is deducted “beforehand” viz. under “rights” a person living near a river could challenge in courts if the water from the dam is not given to him while in an entitlement the water to a dam / industry/ collective would be given “after” supplying it to the last catchment individual.(Water of stakeholders would be deducted “before” giving it to the shareholders)

Governance style was moderated and calibrated way- less of regulation and more of governance. Both collective as well as cumulative leadership was in play besides the role of guardianship- leading from behind.The governance agenda was mostly about setting new departments, shutting  down non- performing  schemes etc. there was hardly any time to present a vision for various  departments nor for many policy initiatives till the fag end of first year. Governace too got politicised given the factional equations. Lack of  experience was evident  in governance while regulation was eased. Oddball innovation was once again in evidence in the  new form of  cabinet comprising  all ministers of  cabinet rank.  Otherwise ,Cabinet meets were much much more earnest–perhaps on account of the sword of damocles hanging overhead.

The entire focus of administration was on delivering the top priority of manifestos apart from the low hanging fruits. Admin  expected to be bamboozled instantly but there was a nuanced rearrangement intially. However, after a lull the  floodgates broke loose to clear the mess at the last mile and Mantralaya. Only diferrence was that it was done by the elected members than non- state actors. In other words ,from a share market approach to transfers and postings under BJP ( it always helped if you engaged a broker) the modus operandi became industrial with Congress(a direct approach with cash).Administration has thereafter adopted a more managerial approach.The impression is of Congress politicians dominating civil servants  (while being controlled by them) from BJP controlling bureaucrats.(while being dominated by them)- in intellectual and social matters respectively.For most part of the year ,civil servants sat on the fence with the spectre of destablising noises. Only towards the end did  the change really sink in. Consequently , while they dealt decently with the unknown (e.g loan waiver) , against unknowable and unexpected  ( heaviest monsoons in living memory) babus faltered.

The budget 2019 of Madhya Pradesh was hardly that – it was merely a manager’s statement of accounts -cum -Munshi’s Bahi Khaata. While it was better than the recent state budgets – as also the latest Union budget- in that it was relatively rigourous in numbers yet it fell short in lacking a vision. It can be termed as a “ complementary budget” (rather than supplementary) since the major items in interim budget presented before LS polls have been left out to a great extent in the main budget. Granted that post GST the conventional budget has become largely defunct as there is little scope for taxation by the state governments and there are limits to public borrowing. All that remains is juggling of priorities and allocations besides raising funds from natural resources/ commodities and data. An innovative- improvising approach could’ve been adopted ; instead the easier way out of enhancing tax on petrol outside the budget, improving the ease of  liquor business and  attempting greater revenue from the real estate was adopted. The hiding from scrutiny approach was continued in the  form of mammoth supplementary budget amounting over a tenth of the original budget. While bringing industry back onto the focus is welcome but one will have to wait for concrete signs before congratulating. (For details, read my essay “Complimentary budget of a glorified Manager” at www.mpmediaplatform.com)

strong>Investor’s summit was organised in a business like manner with over a lakh crore of realistic projects with a promise of 2 lakh jobs. What was the complete picture?A rough and ready guesstimate could be to weigh the sum of concessions, incentives given with the overall investment claims. For instance, if the value of total land given or FAR increase adds up to the more than the current claims of total investment worth one lakh crores then it has to be compensated with more jobs or greater capacity building .Our estimate is that the concessions are greater than equal to investment. That too is more than welcome –it’ll improve equity by creating jobs. Only when concessions are fifteen percent or more over and above the investment , it is a cause for worry .For,that would mean transferring wealth from public to corporate…Care must be taken to compensate the existing industries against subsidies to the new ones(It has been done).Wherever conditions have been tweaked the matching commitments too must be tweaked rationally. viz. if the lease has been increased from 33 years to 99 yrs , the condition of jobs too should be increased over three generations instead of one. Maximum watch has to be kept on two tools of neo colonization – resources and data. Ideally data should be collected by the government to the maximum extent and provided for only single use for one time payment–like the OTP. Presently , the state may not be in a position to quantum crunch data but in days to come it’ll become a raw material for governance. Another benchmark ought to be foreign investment , exports-we could only spot one major investment by an Israeli firm and  export expansion by the Trident group – too little to pass any judgment but at least a beginning has been made. First time  investors is another indicator of the leverage of the CM and the new government- India Cements was  the standout commitment.

PC Sharma , Chief Secretary and others kept throwing numbers – for investments ranging from 40 thousand crores to one lakh crores and from one lakh to two lakh jobs. It was more of a People’s relation than Public relations exercise –masses like big numbers but classes get put off  by poor math. Congress  wasn’t  gracious enough to acknowledge the groundwork done by BJP-  both visible and invisible – the infrastructure and putting a foot in the door by MOU’s. The overall transformation of the meet was from “secret”  to “hidden” – not open or  transparent. Global investors summit was secretive about the facts on ground and the Investor’s meet has kept the figures on board hidden. Being opaque about the numbers has created uncertainty. This has implications for the implementation. By acknowledging and involving the opposition Congress may have bought some sort of insurance policy against sabotage. Now , it’ll be  an all out war on ground. BJP knows that if it allows this to fructify , its innings as the opposition may be much longer than a single term. Government announced some investments pre – meet , others during the meet and rest are slated to concretise by March  2020. The Upper limit  for visible result on ground is 2022 – three years down the line. There is not much room for defaulters – it is perform or perish for Congress. (For details read my Essay :”Magnificent M.P  – from extractive to transactional” on www.mpmediaplatform.com ).

The LS results though bad for Congress proved to be a blessing in disguise for the state and citizens –the government set out with double gusto to earn the mandate rather than benefitting from TINA factor. That sums up the current state of polity.

As for the state of the economy – metaphorically speaking , money has been  raised by selling the kidneys (Land, Mines, data etc.) and donating the liver (furthering  ease of drinking/liquor business) besides mortgaging the future (market loans and gross incentivizing the real estate sector) .Nothing wrong in it for a developing state but care should be taken to get the correct price for organs donated – brokers shouldn’t take the major cut leaving the patient with neither the kidney nor money ; mortgage rates should be redeemable. Besides,the money ought to be solely invested in growth initiatives. Furthermore, the trading of charges with the Central government has merits on both sides. As all other governments this one too has juggled figures and used the central funds for other purposes that allotted for, even if; temporarily – esp. in the face of red taping the flow from the other end. There is no other magic wand to have survived without defaulting otherwise. Talking of the economy as a whole-it was efficiently managed, to say the least.

On the social front, the effort was to nudge it from communal to community- which is easier said than done. Relief  and succor in case of hailstorm and mishaps has been a tad less. The message is of lack of empathy in administration. It has been a mixed performance at best- to put it mildly.

If one had to single out one path breaking stuff politically ,it would be initiating the process for Vidhan Parishad  and avoiding vindictive politics viz. not abolishing  Jan Abhiyan Parishad. The singular stand out decision in Governance was revival of  district government. Two corrective measures caught public fancy-the move against adulteration and dismantling organised crime mafia.On the administrative side two outstanding innovations were-waiving the loan upto 50000 of “all” farmers including non-defaulters (so that law abiding do not get shortchanged) and giving matching concessions to existing industries as incentives for prospective investors ( so as to reward loyalty )

On the flip side ,to pinpoint the two major wrongs – they would be engaging with global giants in sunrise areas ( Sun Pharma , Facebook  mentoring etc.).The twin tools of  global dominance in this century- resource  colonisation and data mining–  would fully come into play if  hard negotiations are not done for a win-win approach. Our data as well as biodiversity is as valuable , if not more , as the tech and capital of these giants. Data and resource decentralization hold the key .Else , MP would be on the road to be the second digital colony after  Jharkhand. Another risky stuff – the Facebook mentoring initative – empowering digitally – Public service has to do it.This is Facebook Zero in a different garb and ought to be avoided- instead create intranets (Russia has already created one).The second dangerous proclamation is about extending the Chhindwara model across the state. Its capital intensive –cum- cheap labour approach should be moderated and calibrated lest the state becomes an internal colony in the long run.

It is said that “work” should not only be done but also “ seen” to be done- (Jo Dikhta hai who Bikta hai ).To which our addition is  “Service” should not merely be provided  but also be “ felt” –(Jo mahsoos hota hai who tikta hai ). By this dictum while the Kamalnath Govt has been working but its projection could  be  better ; it has been service oriented( welfare / succor  / correcting  past wrongs)- but it has not been “felt’-that requires time more than money among the last person/section / beneficiaries. Many governments have lost out despite good work only because the “feeling” was not right-Chandrababu  Naidu, Atal Behari and to a lesser extent Manmohan Singh, Shivraj Chauhan are prime examples.

At the end of one year how does the overall scenario look like ? Is the polity more stable ? It is – the continual threat of toppling the government has changed to seeking Kamalnath’s removal. The return of lobbyists and “dynamic” officers in plum positions is a sure signal that the government has stablised. However , beyond that things haven’t improved noticeably. Are the institutions working better ? If Vidhan Sabha is anything to go by, it has been more of the same- curtailed sessions , walkouts and playing to the gallery sans any serious debate or discussion. Has governance improved? Too early to say  – while many ministers have been earnest more than a handful haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory. On the other had there is a distinct improvement in regulation. What about administration? It has been shaken and stirred yet most officers were biding time just in case the government fell. They still do not seem to share the earnestness of the political class. Management –esp. at Mantrlaya- has improved but administration-particularly in the field is yet to reform.On the  corrective front how has the government fared? We were a bit disappointed at no action taken on the big ticket charges of systemic corruption like Vyapam, E-tender, tree plantation etc. though towards tend of the year there was an all out attack on illegal construction , land and mining mafia (makaan, dukaaan and khadaan ) – the three darkest areas of last mile corruption in previous regime.However the tendency to throw the baby with bathwater too was evident viz. insistence a upon dismantling Jan Abhiyan  Parishad.

The problem with giving  up ideological differences is that you merely get a change in government but not a structural or systemic change. Besides, the chances of systemic failures like Vyapam, Honey trap increase since everyone gets involved in the muck. This is frought with danger – while in the short term , small matters it may succeed but in all key affairs there could be sabotage and the long term revival of the party may be scuttled.

At the end of the year, government presented its report card and individual ministers too listed their achievements . Besides , it presented a visions document for the next five years .It was claimed that 365 of the promises made  in the Manifesto (Vachan Patra) have been addressed. To begin with the Vachan Patra is not merely tough -it is impossible to deliver-given its over 800 items. It is only a slight improvement over 21 thousand odd announcements of Shivraj . Even if  the claim is taken is taken at face value in the light of 44. 5 percent vote that Congress got, it translates into 33 percent marks (barely passing).To achieve more, you must continue the good works of previous regime and also address the major points of their manifesto too. Though we have not analysed the vision document deeply as yet-on the face of it,that appears to be a glorified Plan, a compilation. (We’d come up with a detailed analysis in a podcast that follows). Even that is welcome since it marks a step towards intellectuality. It appears to be better than the one presented by Shivraj on two counts – firstly, it has been presented in the first year while BJP presented it towards the end. Besides , it seems to be more rigorous and realistic which is reflected even in the title- from Vision to delivery. While the talk of building a New Madhya Pradesh and creating 10 lakh jobs (@ 2 lakh a  year ) may be overenthusiatic ,the entire exercise is a step towards more responsible and accountable government.

At this point in time both parties are playing tactically-  hoping for the other to make a mistake. Next monitoring point is after the Local Bodies’ elections. The Union government may do the utmost to scuttle movement till then while the local BJP  will pull all stops to stoke dissatisfaction. Broadly speaking, goals  for the next year include creating the Vidhan Parishad, local bodies’ empowerment, appointments to corporations, elections to cooperatives and  student bodies besides ministry expansion.

Our take is that the government must stop new announcements and Congress must tone down soft Hindutva after local bodies – at least for 3 yrs. Else ,while Economic activity will increase, the economy as a whole will stutter; moreover,  party would pay a heavy price for Hindutva in the mid long term .Government must come up with Madhya Pradesh Design (complementary to the  Gujarat model) focusing more on Human resources than infrastructure.Perhaps a Madhyapradesh  Design- Model .(GDP with GDH: Economic activty with happiness).Building a New Madhya Pradesh  is improbable  without / Vishesh Madhya Pradeshi. Some sort of Supplementary basic income must be introduced -certainly before student body elections – otherwise governance may lose the plot. After fulfilling top priorities and those for which movements and agitations happened last time out government should enlist the top priorities for next year – from Vachan Patra in the light of Vision. It must encourage Citizen participation and inclusion , promote movements . In such a scenario even if the growth is low,there is more satisfaction.If there is no proactive politics and effective opposition post local bodies’ and student elections –Congress could explode and  BJP may implode.

As of now , government approach has been of managing consent and administering consensus; a slight improvement on Union government’s manufacturing consent and aborting dissent .In the best case scenario , it ought to be agreed consent and evolving consensus. Corporate culture is OK but has limitations too-in the Indian context it has to be complemented by the style of family run companies . Cooperative and Mom-Pop traders have also to be accommodated. Ideally, further announcements must cease immediately or at most after local bodies elections. No new promises till previous one initiated. The current pace isunsustainable and popular expectations would be unsatiable .At the moment the government has managed to bring some order and sanity into the chaos and anarchy (which was not all bad – it had an underlying order-a method in madness which benefitted those behind the scenes).

Uptil now there has been mostly corrective approach(Sudhaar) and incremental change (Badlav)- the only big change has been in governance – from dedicated of previous regime (following the social charter and representatives of ruling party alone) to committed (toeing the agenda of  only party in power and its leaders). In  both cases the neutral citizen has been shortchanged.We hope to see an apolitical (not non-political) government-at least after the Panchyat elections.The journey till date has been from moon walking to treadmill -government must bring it to jogging by the end of this term …shaping the state into a runner will need more terms.


(For details read “Citizen report card” on www.mpmediaplatform.com)

  • At the end of the first year who are the greatest gainers ? Biggest losers ?

The greatest gainer is undoubtedly Kamalnath followed by his son Nakulnath , Chhindwara district and Kamalnath faction of Congress? Next big block of gainers is Digvijay and family-Son, wife , brother nephews , his faction in Congress;Congress party and state are the other gainers. Scindia and Shivraj are the biggest losers followed by BJP and Shivraj faction.

  • Overall, in the cabinet those with previous experience (Govind Singh Sajjan verma , Vijaylakshmi Sadho etc.) and the ones with pedigree and education (Jaivardhan , Priyvrat , Sachin ) have performed well, Those with neither experience nor education /pedigree took to factionalism in the name of godfathers (Pradyuman, Tulsi,Imarti et al) -they must realize that they’ll have to deliver twice as  much to get half the credit. The mid  rangers ( Like Bala Bachchan)  need a mix of transactional- cum-sharing  approach Agreed  that post 1990s ,leaders have become more like board directors but people like Bala needn’t copy his leader in purely transactional approach.(Bala’s video asking people to join/vote Congress in return for a Community hall became viral)
  • Only a handful of Ministries have come up with policies/ drafts

Industry, Tourism ,  Excise , Mining – the others too must formulate new policies(wherever needed) by Local bodies’  elections…If  you keep drafting a policy till mid term – when will you implement it ?

  • Kamlnath has given himself 60 Percent . Some may think it as being modest but that is the maximum any CM with 44 percent vote and 49%seats could’ve done. Uptil now it has been Sanjay Gandhi-Narsimha Rao redux (My way or highway – managing a minority govt. with all tricks of the game). Now that his physical legacy is ensured virtually all important Buildings schemes have his Name- Vallabh Bhawan annexe, New Madhya Pradesh Bhavan in Delhi, MadhyaLok; in Mumbai ,Metro et al) he must try and bring out his Rajeev Gandhi- Manmohan  avatar (Stateman like with Vision , policies, reforms , programmes, schemes  etc.). Ideally , he must not visit Chhindwara (certainly not after Panchayat elections) nor give any more projects to it  till the election year –Else , he runs the risk of being labeled “Chhindwara Ka CM.

  • Congress has usurped the BJP template in the state as was evident in the Jhabua By-election: making the rebel BJP candidate file nomination ; 100 BJP workers joining Congress days before polling,fielding a super heavy candidate –Kantilal Bhuria et al.
  • Some extraneous boosters for gov came from CMIE reports of a 40% reduction in un employment in M.P. during Kamalnath regime – from 7.2 to 4.8 (In the same period the national unemployment increased from 5 to 8%) One survey ranked Kamalnath as the best CM while on the other hand ,in GOI reports M.P slipped to 9th rank in Governance.

  • Thru its various programmes and schemes the govt. touched different sectionsWomen-51 thousand rupees for marriage; Youth- Swabhiman Yojana; Pensioners – made the pensions up to date with D.A etc.;
  • Different programmes impacted various classes Upper- ;Middle – Electricity Bill major relief .;Lower- naya Savera
  • Touched various sectors via its policies Agri –loan waiver

Industrialists- policies, incentives,Service-Astt. Proff  appointment.

  • By cabinet decisions various castes Upper castes – 10%
    Economic quota accepted. OBC- Reservation SC/ST – tribal loan waivers/debit cards.
  • By a planned  approach various  regions

Mahakaushal-Medical college, University

Malwa-metro; Gwalior-Chambal:Gwalior Mela revived;

Madhya Bharat-Metro ; Bundelkhand- Sagar Medical college extension; Chhattarpur Mining projects ; Baghelkhand-Cultural festivals

  • Overal 1 cr people 20 lakh households) benefitted from the 100-150 rupee power tarrif (that is around 4-5cr people);Around 20 lakh farmers’ loan waived (another 1cr people with overlap)… If even 20% population gets touched in the first year it is decent.

P.S . We’ll update this essay post the local bodies elections around end June and
bring the next  edition / new essay towards the end of  2020