Full transcript of the BBC Hindi Special Programme, Aapki Baat BBC Ke Saath with the Chattisgarh Chief Minister Ajit Jogi on the topic: Why has the Chattisgarh government been surrounded by controversies and what has the government done for the development of the new state
Nagendar Sharma, BBC: Why is Ajit Jogi government in Chattisgarh always surrounded by controversies?
Ajit Jogi : Chattisgarh government has never been in any sort of controversy. The reality is that opposition in this state has no issue for the elections, and are trying to rake up some baseless issues, based on their imagination, this is what the media terms as controversies. There is a one sided fight in Chattisgarh for the coming elections, and the Congress victory with an overwhelming majority is sure .
BBC listener from Durg (MP): When you studied engineering and then appeared for the civil services, you did not avail the reservation facility available to you, but in politics why is it that often you have been claiming to be an adivasi (tribal), aren’t you confident of success, without this tag?
Ajit Jogi : I have never tried to play the adivasi (tribal) card. I was in the top ten in the Civil Services merit list, as a general category candidate. I topped the university exam in Regional Engineering College, Bhopal. I never felt the need for utilising this facility, but in politics when people did not find any issue against me, they tried to rake all kinds of issues of caste, religion etc., so it is the opponents who are playing this card and not me. Whichever seat the party high command allocates, one has to contest from there.
Nagendar Sharma, BBC: But Mr Jogi, your own party, the Congress and other parties you are on good terms with have been saying recently that son of an adivasi (tribal) Ajit Jogi is being wrongly targeted by the Centre?
Ajit Jogi : It is a political reality that the NDA government at the Centre, especially our Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee cannot tolerate the fact that the son of an adivasi is the chief minister of Chattisgarh. Such is their mentality. They want to look down upon the downtrodden in the society. It is for this reason that they first targeted Laloo Yadav in Bihar, then the dalit chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Mayawati, and now in Chattisgarh, they are making unsuccessful attempts to get rid of me, they cannot tolerate such changes in the society, such is their mental state .
BBC listener from Raipur : The security graph of the state has gone down during your rule. In fact people even in Raipur do not feel safe. When a senior administrative officer becomes the chief minister and cannot guarantee safety for the people of state, what can be done?
Ajit Jogi : Chattisgarh is an island of peace in India. The most pertinent example is the Gujarat riots of last year; the genocide of last year in that state had a nationwide reaction, but in Chattisgarh there was not even an iota of disturbance. The second example is the amount of investment being done in this state, in the last three years more than Rs 70,000 crore have been invested in this state. Had there been no peace here, why would the investors line up for this state? Therefore there is no truth in this statement.
Nagendar Sharma, BBC: Gujarat is one aspect, but there is an allegation of forcible conversions in the tribal areas of Chattisgarh. It is being said that the Christian missionaries have a free run...
Ajit Jogi : I have thrown an open challenge on this issue. As far back as 1968, when Chattisgarh was a part of Madhya Pradesh, the state had become the first in the country to ban forcible conversions and it was made an offence. I challenge the BJP and Sangh Parivar again, that even if there has been a single case of forcible conversion during the past three years, since Chattisgarh became a state or even before that, why don’t they lodge a complaint in the police stations? But despite having been challenged time and again, they have not been able to do so. This means it is a baseless campaign of falsehood designed at deriving political mileage.
BBC listener from Sharjah : You had said some time back that the IB and the Central govt are harassing you, and you had complained to the Prime Minister, who sent the letter written by you to the CBI. This agency found that you had used forged document and an FIR has been registered against you. If a chief minister requires false documents, what should the common man do?
Ajit Jogi : It has happened for the first time in the history of this country that a chief minister complains to the Prime Minister, and the latter turns the complainant into an accused. I received a document from the IB by post. I sent it to the Prime Minister requesting that this is a serious matter involving an intelligence agency and it must be investigated. Far from investigating, the Prime Minister chose to make me an accused. The charge sheet submitted by the CBI against me does not anywhere say that I have forged the documents, on the contrary it has a laughable claim – that is why I wrote to the Prime Minister and I did not investigate it myself.
See, no state government can launch an investigation against the IB, if I had done that, they would not have told me anything. It is for the first time in the history of the country that a chief minister writing to the prime minister is booked in a case, it is for the first time that a complainant is turned into an accused. Why is it that two days after the elections were notified, the CBI decided to file the charge-sheet? If they had evidence, why did they not do it earlier? It is only after the Prime Minister received the reports of election surveys which stated a victory with a heavy margin for the Congress that this was done .
Nagendar Sharma, BBC: Mr Jogi, you are saying that the Prime Minister targeting you is an election game, but this tirade of charges and counter charges, isn’t it weakening the Indian democracy ?
Ajit Jogi : The unprecedented action of the Prime Minister in ordering the central intelligence agencies to implicate me clearly means that this government at the Centre does not want any chief minister to write to the prime minister.
Even if the prime minister thought that my letter was not liked by him, he could have informed me, on the contrary he asked the CBI to file a politically motivated chargesheet against me. I have full faith in the judiciary of this country, and this charge- sheet would not stand up to the legal scrutiny.
Is it possible that writing a letter becomes an offence for prosecuting anybody, this shows the typical forward caste mentality of this government. Look at the reaction this thing had in Chattisgarh. People brought the state to a standstill for two days, they were so angry with the Prime Minister, that in two days after the charge-sheet was filed against me, so many effigies of the Prime Minister were burnt, which probably have not been burnt during the past five years!
Nagendar Sharma, BBC: Mr Jogi, you had also gone public in this matter, and had said that the Central government was trying to harass you. Somewhere you were also in this game of political one-upmanship?
Ajit Jogi : See, by writing a letter to the Prime Minister, I wanted the country to know that the top most intelligence agency of the country was being misused for political reasons, it was a serious matter. An operation by the name of Black Star had been launched to procure false documents against the political rivals of the NDA.
What I had said was that had the agencies like the IB been allowed to function properly, an attack on the Indian parliament during broad daylight would not have taken place. The militants planned such a serious attack and no one had an inkling. Had the IB been allowed to function impartially, militants and intruders from Pakistan would not have entered so far in the Indian territory in Kargil.
My point is that this government at the Centre is not allowing the intelligence and investigative agencies to do their work, such agencies are being forced to work against political rivals.
BBC listener from Meerut: Mr Jogi, only a couple of days back, trucks full of school bags with your pictures printed on them have been seized. If you are so confident, why are you resorting to such things before the elections?
Ajit Jogi : See this distribution had been decided many months back, and this has nothing to do with the elections. Also it does not have my photograph, there is a message by me to the tribal people of the state, printed in the local tribal dialect. In this message I have appealed to them that, like me -- a tribal, who studied to become an S.P., collector, Congress spokesman and now the chief minister -- all tribals must send their children to school for a better future. Now since the Election Commission has objected, we have stopped this distribution, what is the issue now ?
Nagendar Sharma, BBC: Mr Jogi, in all this fight for political scores, what happened to the development of Chattisgarh?
Ajit Jogi : That is exactly the point. It is the development of this state during the past three years, which is bothering the BJP to an extent that they have not been able to find an election issue here. Earlier only Rs 36 crore were spent on roads here, now Rs 1200 crore are being spent every year. Rs 90 crore were being spent on irrigation, now Rs 900 crore are being spent. This region had one agriculture university, now this state has 23 such universities, there was one medical college, now there are twenty, there were six universities now there are thirty-six. All this has been achieved despite an attitude of non-cooperation from the Central government.
Nagendar Sharma, BBC: There have been many allegations of corruption against your ministerial colleagues in the last three years?
Ajit Jogi : This is another figment of imagination of the BJP. I have been publicly stating all the while that there is a Lokayukta in the state, who is a retired chief justice of the High Court.. He was appointed in consultation with both the political parties. Why not complain there? There is an anti-corruption bureau; there are vigilance wings in every district. In these three years, there has been just a single complaint lodged before the Lokayukta – what purpose does it serve by shouting corruption-corruption from the roof-top, without any proof? If they do not have faith on anybody else, they should at least trust the judiciary of the country.
Nagendar Sharma, BBC: At least eight out of 16 districts in Chattisgarh are affected by Naxalite violence, and it is said that they run a parallel government in these districts. Is this not a failure of this government?
Ajit Jogi : You have exaggerated this. The Naxal problem is only in the districts which border Andhra, Orissa, Jharkhand and Maharashtra. These borders touch these districts that is why this impression of six, seven eight districts has been given.
I think that the Naxal problem is not a simple law and order problem, it is a wider social problem. We need to strike at the root of the problem, that is – poverty, exploitation, illiteracy, injustice, unemployment – till the time we tackle all this, we cannot get rid of this. Today it is a Naxal problem, tomorrow it may come up in some other form. That is why during the last three years, we have tried to address these problems, we have formed the Bastar and Sarguja package. This sort of extremism cannot be solved by the bullet. This is a national problem, and requires a proper national policy to be dealt with.
Nagendar Sharma, BBC: By your claims of the government works, how many of the five states going to polls shortly, can you say that the Congress will win?
Ajit Jogi : We do not need to claim, by all indications, I can say with surety that Congress will win in all the five states. Remember this is the semi-final, after winning the semi-final, will come the final in the from of Lok Sabha elections, the fight for Delhi.
Nagendar Sharma, BBC: If you are so confident, how many seats will you win in Chattisgarh assembly of 90 seats ?
Ajit Jogi : I do not get into the prediction of numbers, I am saying with surety that we will win a heavy majority.