BHOPAL: Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Thursday went where he hadn’t in the 13 years he was Madhya Pradesh chief minister — the city of Ashoknagar.
The city had never figured in his itinerary, nor his campaign trails for elections. The reason was never explained. There’s a superstition that anyone who visits the city as CM loses the next election.
After setting foot on the ‘jinxed’ land, as part of the Vijay Sankalp Yatra, Shivraj asked the people, “Hum se kya bhool hui jo ye sazaa hum ko mili?” (What mistake were we punished for?) — a reference to BJP’s defeat in the assembly elections.
The last time Chouhan had visited Ashoknagar was in 2003 as an MP from Vidisha. On Thursday, the former CM began his speech at Ashoknagar by apologising for the long delay, saying, “Der aaye, durust aaye (better late than never).”
Chouhan hadn’t stepped into the municipal limits of Ashoknagar even to inaugurate development projects. Once, as CM, he laid the foundation stone for development projects for Ashoknagar outside city limits. In June last year, he cancelled all his programmes — including the inauguration of the new collector office and foundation stone ceremony of schemes worth Rs 200 crore.
When reporters asked him on Thursday why he hadn’t visited Ashoknagar all these years, Chouhan said: “I may have not visited Ashoknagar, but I regularly visited the district. The people here have given me massive support and my heart beats for Ashoknagar.”
A senior BJP leader told TOI the superstition runs deep. Many former CMs like Congress’s Shyama Charan Shukla, P C Sethi, Arjun Singh and Motilal Vora and BJP’s Sunderlal Patwa did not return to power after visiting Ashoknagar, he claimed, adding: “A priest in Ashoknagar had revealed the jinx to Shivraj Singh Chouhan.”
The former CM said he did everything that could be done for the people. “Still we could not make it, and fell short by just two to three seats,” he rued.