Bhopal, May 22: A chain-snatching has become a source of embarrassment for chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, whose growing band of detractors in the state BJP have been hoping that Narendra Modi’s rise would lead to a change of guard in Bhopal.
Chouhan’s stepmother was on her morning walk here today when two motorbike-borne men tore a gold chain off her neck and sped away.
Kashi Bai, who is in her 60s and was holding a bunch of flowers she had plucked from a public park for puja, received an abrasion on her neck.
Chouhan’s party critics today joined the Opposition Congress in using the incident to portray the chief minister as a weak man who couldn’t “protect even his immediate family”.
Chain-snatching has become a menace in Bhopal, with an average of four cases reported every day while the police flail about clueless.
Chouhan’s father Prem Singh “Master Saheb” Chouhan lives in the upscale Saket Nagar neighbourhood, about 5km from the chief minister’s residence. Father and son are said to have maintained “minimal” social ties since Prem’s remarriage decades ago, and a young Shivraj was brought up by relatives.
Bhopal’s police bosses rushed to Prem’s home today and a case was registered, but there was no reaction from Chouhan.
Some state BJP leaders feel the incident could cast a shadow on Chouhan at a time the spotlight is on Modi’s “strong” leadership.
Less than a year ago, Chouhan and Modi were both perceived to be in the race to be declared the prime ministerial candidate. But as his rival’s stars rose by the day, voter complaints against Chouhan’s MLAs weakened him so much that he had to seek Modi’s help as campaigner in the lead-up to the December Assembly polls.
“Comparisons are bound to be drawn. Modi showcased development and won a massive mandate across the country. Here is Chouhan, who is unable to provide security to his family,” a disgruntled BJP leader in Bhopal said.
He said that Modi expects good governance in BJP-ruled states, including Madhya Pradesh.
Dissident state BJP leaders hope that Chouhan will be shunted to Delhi in the next six months. Soon after the May 16 verdict, Chouhan had ruled himself out of a “Delhi assignment” (a berth in the Modi cabinet).
The Congress, licking the wounds of its miserable defeat in the recent Lok Sabha polls, used the chain-snatching to take a dig both at Chouhan and Modi.
“Here is a chief minister who fails to protect members of his immediate family. Is this the kind of good days Narendra Modiji is promising?” state Congress spokesperson Pankaj Chaturvedi asked.