Chief minister Shivraj Chouhan is aware of talk of anti-incumbency working against his party. But he tells K.S. Shaini all is well with the BJP and that it will return to power:
Will the forthcoming election be different for your party? In what ways?
As you know, the BJP has been in power for ten years. In 2003, when we first came to power, the state had collapsed and there was anarchy. The people chose the BJP in the backdrop of several years of Congress misrule. We won a thumping majority. This election will be different from the previous two. In the last ten years, in every sphere—be it irrigation and agriculture, the power sector or the infrastructure sector—Madhya Pradesh has reached the zenith of development parametres. It has maintained the highest economic growth over these years. It’s no longer a sick state. Now we can prescribe an efficient development strategy for the state. During this assembly election, however, the issue is inclusive development.
You’re contesting from both Vidisha and Budhni. A case of the jitters?
No, I am not worried. Vidisha and Budhni are both karmabhumi for me. The people from both places like me and are affectionate to me. They wanted me to represent them. I ended up responding to requests from the party’s volunteers from both constituencies. Meanwhile, the party’s decision too came through, and I humbly honoured it. I am confident of victory in both constituencies.
The Congress seems to have united under the leadership of Jyotiraditya Scindia. Does the BJP see this as a threat?
You must have realised (from recent incidents) the extent of the Congress’s unity. There’s widespread resentment and division. Some dissidents are approaching the high command. Only some time back, the enmity was in the open. Now, they are all putting on a show of unity. But people understand.
Will the issues of corruption and anti-incumbency harm the BJP’s prospects?
The Congress hue and cry over corruption is only to cover up the scams of its UPA government at the Centre. All-round development is distinctly visible in Madhya Pradesh, so for the BJP, there’s no room for anti-incumbency. People have experienced the benefits of our initiatives and are with us.
There are corruption charges against your government. Dozens of ministers face Lokayukta probes?
In the last ten years of BJP rule, not a single corruption charge against any minister could be proved. The Lokayukta has conducted fair and impartial probes into those matters.
The BJP has denied tickets to 46 MLAs. Won’t that harm the party’s prospects?
The winning prospects of the candidates were assessed. Sitting MLAs who haven’t got ticket are sincere volunteers nevertheless and will support those fielded in their place. Their future is linked to the party’s victory.