Bhopal: A carefully cultivated image of family man coupled with simplicity, Shivraj Singh Chouhan led the BJP campaign presenting himself as one among the people promising further development to score an impressive hattrick in Madhya Pradesh assembly election.
54-year-old Chouhan always maintained a low profile and ignored comparisons with high-profile Narendra Modi. He concentrated on Madhya Pradesh, a strategy that appears to have paid huge dividends.
Born on March 5, 1959 in a farmer's family of Prem Singh Chouhan and Sundar Bai Chouhan at village Jait in Sehore district, his leadership skills first came to fore when he was elected as the President of Model Higher Secondary School Student's Union in 1975.
He participated in underground movement against Emergency and was imprisoned in 1976-77 and on several other occasions for various political agitations and public causes.
A volunteer of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) since 1977, Chouhan is a gold medallist in Masters of Philosophy from Barkatulla University, Bhopal.
Chouhan had replaced Babulal Gaur as Chief Minister on November 29, 2005, who had occupied the seat after the fiery sanyasin-politician Uma Bharti resigned in 2004, and has remained in the saddle since them.
But even before that Chouhan had represented the saffron stronghold Vidisha Parliamentary seat five times. He had also served as General Secretary of the BJP and state president of party's Madhya Pradesh unit.
Chouhan's spouse Sadhana Singh, though yet not in active political life, is said to be the persona behind Chouhan's many decisions. Married in 1992, Chouhan has two sons.
Assiduously working on his son of the soil image, the soft-spoken leader easily identified himself with the socio-economic concerns of farmers, villagers and commoners, an image which sticks to him till date.
Chouhan was first elected to the state assembly from Budhni constituency in 1990. He was elected a member of Parliament for the first time in 10th Lok Sabha from Vidisha constituency the following year.
In 1996, he was re-elected to the 11th Lok Sabha. In 1998, he was re-elected to 12th Lok Sabha for the third term, which he repeated in the in 13th Lok Sabha election in 1999 and 14th Lok Sabha in 2004. He won his fifth Lok Sabha election with an impressive margin of over 260,000 votes.
In this period, he was a member in various Parliamentary Standing Committees on Urban Development, Rural Development, Human Resource Development and others.
He also served has National President of Bhartiya Janata Yuva Morcha from 2000 to 2003 and National Secretary of Bhartiya Janta Party.
His fortunes, were, however, set to take another direction two years after the BJP led by Uma Bharti swept Madhya Pradesh assembly elections in 2003.
At that time, Chouhan contested polls unsuccessfully against the incumbent Chief Minister Digvijay Singh from Raghogarh.
Soon Bharti resigned and Gaur became Chief Minister in 2004 only to be replaced the next year. As the state BJP President, Chouhan was chosen as the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh on November 30th, 2005.
He contested a bye-election from Budhni assembly constituency the following year, winning his old seat by a margin of over 36,000 votes. He retained the seat as well as the Chief Ministership.
"In the last ten years, I have ruled the state not as Chief Minister but as you brother, son and maternal uncle (Mama)," was the favourite punchline of Chouhan as he criss-crossed the the ravines of Chambal or the crowds of cities in Bhopal, Gwalior and Indore this assembly election.
For the critics, however, the Chief Minister has little control over his own ministers, many of whom are much senior to him in politics and has direct connect with RSS, the ideological master of the BJP. They say the CM is "gentle but not an effective administrator".
It's personal rapport of the Chief Minister, which seems to be his strength. A famous beetle shop owner Kamal Kumar in Vidisha, the second seat from which he contested this time, proudly flaunts a photo of him offering beetle leaves to the Chief Minister during one of his usual visits to the constituency.
In his early political career, Chouhan has also been a convener of Akhil Bhartiya Keshariya Vahini in 1991-92, the General Secretary of All India Bhartiya Janata Yuva Morcha from 1992 onwards, the General Secretary of Bhartiya Janta Party, Madhya Pradesh from 1992 to 1994, a member of Consultative Committee, Ministry of Human Resources Development from 1992 to 1996.
He was also a Member of Committee on Labour and Welfare from 1993 to 1996 and a member of Hindi Salahkar Samiti from 1994 to 1996.