Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led BJP government, which came to power after the Congress dispensation collapsed following the resignation of 22 MLAs led by Jyotiraditya Scindia in March 2020, completed two years in office on Wednesday. The collapse of the Congress government made Shivraj Singh Chouhan take oath as the chief minister of the state for the fourth term on March 23, 2020. With this, Chouhan is also now the longest-serving BJP chief minister, who retained the post of CM for a period of more than 15 years, surpassing the record of former Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh, who had held office for 15 years and four days. While Raman Singh achieved the feat in three straight terms, Chouhan has been sworn into office on four occasions. Of the current chief ministers in the country, he has had the fourth-longest stint. Topping this list is Odisha's Naveen Patnaik followed by Bihar's Nitish Kumar and Neiphiu Rio of Nagaland. Out of 18 chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh (from 1952 to till today), including Kamal Nath (17 December 17, 2018 to March 23, 2020), Chouhan is only chief minister who was sworn-in for the post for four times surpassing the late Congress leader Shyama Charan Shukla's record of three terms as chief minister of the Madhya Pradesh -from March 26, 1969 to January 28, 1972, the second term from December 23 to April 30, 1977 and the third term from December 9, 1989 to March 1, 1990.
Chouhan is also the third chief minister of the BJP in Madhya Pradesh after the party defeated the Congress and ending the 10 years (7 December 1993 to 7 December 2003) rule of the former chief minister Digvijaya Singh in December 2003. The veteran BJP leader Chouhan was first sworn in as the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh on November 29, 2005 after taking over charge from the former chief minister (August 23, 2004 to November 9, 2005) of the state, Babulal Gaur, who had replaced the ever first woman chief minister of the state Uma Bharti (December 8, 2003 to August 23 2004). After checkingmate the Congress, Chouhan has also kept competition from within his own party at bay as the BJP's MP unit has no dearth of strong leaders. Right from the Jana Sangh days, the party has had deep roots in the state. Among Chouhan's main competitors are BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya and state home minister Narottam Mishra. While Vijayvargiya has made his career outside the state, serving as party in-charge for Haryana assembly elections and the general secretary in charge of West Bengal, Mishra has had several ministerial stints including state home minister during BJP rule in MP.
Political watchers say a fresh challenge to Chouhan in the days to come may emerge from BJP state president V.D. Sharma, who represents Khajuraho in the Lok Sabha. Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia may also pose a threat to him in the future. However, amid the murmur from BJP's national headquarters in New Delhi to the state capital Bhopal of replacing Chouhan from the last few months, state BJP leaders said the upcoming Assembly election in 2023 will be contested on the leadership of the Chouhan. "It is only speculation that Chouhan will be replaced by any other prominent BJP leader. It may happen after the 2023 Assembly elections but not before that. Top party leaders from New Delhi to Bhopal are very well aware of his political stature in the state and his replacement before Assembly polls will definitely give an extra edge to the Congress,"a senior BJP spokesperson told IANS requesting anonymity.