Chouhan launches new schemes, seeks autonomy

BJPSenior BJP leaders at Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhanís swearing-in ceremony in Bhopal on Saturday. PTI

Within minutes of the swearing-in ceremony Saturday, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan got into campaign mode for the general elections, launching new schemes and demanding more autonomy for the states.

To convey a sense of urgency, but partly playing to the gallery, the CM signed files as he kept reeling off previously announced sops like rice at Re 1 per kg, constitution of a commission for the middle class and a scheme meant to link agriculture fields to roads.

The 54-year-old was sworn in as the CM for the third time since 2005. The BJP's top leaders including L K Advani and Rajnath Singh, chief ministers of party-ruled states Narendra Modi, Raman Singh and Vasundhara Raje and captains of industry, including Anil Ambani and Kumar Mangalm Birla were present for the grand ceremony. TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thakre were also present besides Hindu sants, Muslim clergy and those belonging to other faiths.

Chouhan spoke only after the Governor, who administered the oath of office and secrecy, and other dignitaries had left, an attempt to separate the formal function from the political speech given in the presence of thousands of supporters.

Riding on his impressive victory in the Assembly elections, Chouhan took on the UPA while accusing it of discriminating against states and damaging the federal structure. While seeking more autonomy, he said the devolution of central taxes for states should be raised to 50 per cent.

The poor in Madhya Pradesh, who already buy wheat at Re 1 per kg will get rice at the same price from January 1, a promise the BJP had made in its manifesto for the 2013 elections. Constitution of a commission to know and address the problems faced by the middle class and a scheme named after the CM to build roads up to the field had already been announced. Chouhan also announced setting up of a board to promote trade.

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