Loss and profit
THE WEEK|May 23, 2021
With his challengers failing to deliver West Bengal for the BJP, Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s chair appears to be safe for now
SRAVANI SARKAR

WHILE THE ENTIRE nation waited expectantly for the assembly election results from West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry on May 2, it was business as usual for Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. He chaired a Covid-19 review meeting with senior ministers and officers, underlining the importance of “breaking the infection chain”. Finally, when the results came, there was no immediate reaction from Chouhan—despite the BJP’s poor performance.

The loss in West Bengal turned out to be particularly devastating for the BJP, as it had invested a great deal of effort and money in the state. Although the party improved its tally significantly compared with the 2016 elections, it still lost to the Trinamool Congress by a huge margin. In Madhya Pradesh, too, the BJP performed poorly; the Congress’s Ajay Tandon won the Damoh assembly byelection by a margin of around 17,000 votes.

Chouhan’s first reaction came almost 24 hours after the results were announced. He applauded the BJP wins in Assam and Puducherry, hailed the “miraculous growth” of the party in West Bengal and praised the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and party president J.P. Nadda. But there was not a word about the comprehensive defeat in Damoh.

Even a week later, Chouhan has not spoken, despite the BJP serving a show-cause notice to former minister Jayant Malaiya and expelling his son and four others for “anti-party activities” in the context of the Damoh defeat. The district collector and the superintendent of police of Damoh were, meanwhile, shunted out.

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