RAIPUR: Known to skirt controversial issues such as Hindutva and conversions, Raman Singh, who today became the Chief Minister of the Naxal-affected Chattisgarh for the third time, has earned the reputation of being a silent performer.
Fondly called as ‘Chawal Wale Baba’ (the rice God), Singh, who had an uninterrupted 10-year rule of the tribal-dominated state, earned the sobriquet for the popularity of unique pro-welfare schemes including distribution of rice at Rs one and Rs two per kg to families belonging to extremely poor and below poverty line categories.
Rice for Rs 1 a kg under the Antyodaya scheme and at Rs 2 for others below the poverty line (BPL) families were touted as one of the main achievements of the Raman Singh government.
Despite recurring Maoist violence for which he has had his share of criticism, tech-savvy Singh has turned the backward state into a model of development.
He was also credited for bringing in Chhattisgarh Food Security Act, much before the National Food Security Act which was described as a “game changer” by Congress.
Singh has won praise from political rivals including Finance Minister P Chidambaram (during his tenure as Home Minister) for adopting pro-active policy to tackle Naxalism.
He was credited for forming ‘Salwa Judum’ – an anti-Naxal movement, to check Left-wing extremism in the state – but it was decried by human rights activists.
Born on October 15, 1952 in Kawardha, Raman Singh is a ‘Rajput’. He has been active in politics since 1976. His political journey began as a councilor of Kawardha municipality.
Hailing from a family of farmers, Singh was elected as member of Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly between 1990-98.
He has also represented Rajnandgaon constituency of Chhattisgarh in Lok Sabha in 1999.
A former Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Singh has defeated Congress’ veteran leader Motilal Vora by a margin of 26,715 votes in 1999 General Elections.
Singh, on whom BJP relies heavily for its image in the state, was later selected as president of the state unit of the party after formation of Chhattisgarh in 2000.
He practiced Ayurvedic Medicine in his hometown Kawardha after completing the course. His simplicity, openness and commitment to serve had made him quite popular among the locals.–PTI