Full transcript of the BBC Hindi special programme Aapki Baat BBC Ke Saath with the Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh on : Time for people’s verdict - has this government fulfilled the faith reposed by the public for ten years?
Nagendar Sharma, BBC: Mr Digvijay Singh, you have ruled this state for ten years, and now is the time for the electorate to decide. The Prime Minister said in Bhopal today [Sunday] in a rally that Madhya Pradesh has done miserably under your chief minister ship on the developmental front and is still a Bimaru state. How do you react to it?
Digvijay Singh : I did not expect that someone of the stature of PM Atal ji, would be swayed by the false propaganda of the state BJP. The Planning Commission, the members of which were appointed by this NDA government, says in its Human Development report that Madhya Pradesh (MP) is now coming out of the bimaru state tag. Human Development Indices of this state have shown improvement, this again has been stated in the Planning Commission report. I did not expect that the Prime Minister would be swayed by mere propaganda far away from facts. I regret his remarks.
Nagendar Sharma, BBC: The Prime Minister has also expressed concern on the literacy figures of the state and termed your tenure as an all round failure.
Digvijay Singh : His government has rewarded our state government for the work done in the field of literacy. The Union HRD minister Murli Manohar Joshi has praised Madhya Pradesh and lauded the education guarantee scheme. He admitted that the work done in this state is unparalleled in the country.
Finance Ministry has said that the model of Madhya Pradesh in literacy should be adopted throughout the country. I am saying that I did not expect Atalji to be swayed this much. I do not want to say that he was wrong in his remarks, as he is the Prime Minister of the country, but he had certainly been misled by his state party on the situation of the state.
Nagendar Sharma, BBC: In the same rally, BJP chief ministerial candidate Uma Bharti has said that more than one lakh rape cases have taken place during your ten year tenure and the law-order situation is very bad...
Digvijay Singh : Our behanji, Uma Bharti is in the habit of exaggerating things in her speeches and statements. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) figures say there are on an average about 2,500 rape cases in Madhya Pradesh every year, this means even if you talk of ten years, it comes to twenty five thousand and Uma Bharti has stated the figure, which is four times more than the factual figure. Well, she is a sanyasin, to exaggerate is her right . I do not want to say anything more. Law and order situation in the state has improved in the past ten years, there are no communal riots. Compare the crime rate today with that of the BJP rule between 1990-92.
BBC listener from Indore : Residents in cities like Indore are struggling for electricity, you can well imagine the situation in other remote parts of the state, and in the election year you have announced free power for farmers, what is happening ?
Digvijay Singh : It is not so, we are making all possible efforts to fulfill the electricity needs of the state, and we are purchasing it from other states as well. Let me tell you that the electricity available in the state today is double than it was when I became the Chief Minister ten years ago. So far, as this concession to farmers is concerned, the farmers of the state were struggling due to lack of rain during the last three years, and the concession given by the state government is well within our rights, I think nobody should have objections to this.
Let me also tell you that despite poor rain during the past three years, the state government has ensured that proper ponds were dug up, all efforts were made to see that there was no scarcity of water. Do not forget that the mayor in Indore belongs to the BJP, and it controls the civic body. Despite having a party opposed to us there, we did not leave any stone unturned in helping the local body whether it was financial or any other help.
BBC listener from Surat : Referring to the role you played in the communal disturbances in Dhar district and about the Bhojshala problem; the national president of women’s wing of your party has described Sonia Gandhi as incarnation of goddess Durga - does this all not expose pseudo secularism of Congress?
Digvijay Singh : The Madhya Pradesh state government does not discriminate against any religion. We have dealt firmly with the fundamentalists, whether they were Hindus or Muslims. At the same time secularism does not mean you do not believe in any religion - it means respect for all religions.
I have come down heavily on Hindu as well as Muslim fundamentalists. If we have acted against RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal, we have also acted against SIMI and Jamaat-e-Islami. The results are for everyone to see, there has not been a single communal riot in this state in ten years.
Nagendar Sharma, BBC: You are saying there have been no communal riots during your tenure. But after Babri Masjid demolition, at least 140 people were killed in riots in the state. The report on these was ready in year 2000, but has not been made public so far. Why ?
Digvijay Singh : The decision to make this report public had been taken , but it was to be placed in the state assembly first, since the sessions for this Vidhan Sabha are now over, it could not be tabled - but remember there has not been a single riot in my tenure - compare it with about two and a half year tenure of BJP govt -from March 1990 to Dec 1992 - there were riots every three months,… six months.
BBC listener from Faridkot (Punjab) : Congress has demanded a ban on VHP recently, can you win in M.P. without the Hindu vote bank ?
Digvijay Singh : First of all let me make it clear that I do not believe in any vote bank. This politics of VHP is not in the benefit of the country. Is this the only problem being faced by the country? Why do they want to construct the temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya ? It is not because of any religious feeling, it is because of the disruptive politics of spreading religious hatred in the country that VHP wants a temple there. They want to keep the Hindu Muslim dispute on . I invite VHP to construct a temple in Madhya Pradesh, we are ready to give them land for this purpose .
Nagendar Sharma, BBC: But you are being charged with playing soft Hindutva in your state ?
Digvijay Singh : The term Hindutva has a different meaning. It was coined by Savarkar in 30s and at that time he had said that he is an atheist. As Hitler and Mussolini had spread racial supremacy, in the same vein fundamentalist organisations have misused Hindutva in India. I am a Sanatan Dharmi, my going to the temple should not be taken as soft Hindutva and all that .
BBC listener from Madhya Pradesh : In the election year you have given free electricity to farmers costing close to 700 crore to the state. You had also promised to give free power during the Rabi season, but this has not been implemented so far. Was it only an election announcement?
Digvijay Singh : We had said that we would provide electricity in villages for six to nine hours, which we are doing, to fulfill this we are purchasing 100 MW of electricity. In fact to complete the demands in villages, we are being forced to resort to power cuts in towns.
Nagendar Sharma, BBC: When you became the Chief Minister for the first time in 1993, you had signed 10 MOUs to fulfill the electricity demands of the state, majority of those agreements are only on paper, and there's been no implementation...
Digvijay Singh : Why only MP, look at the entire country, not even ten per cent of such agreements could be implemented in reality. The private companies either did not turn up or if they turned up the projects of private power plants could not be completed. The case of Enron crossed all limits.
These failures were mainly due to two reasons. First, the condition of state electricity boards in majority of the states was not such that they could repay. And secondly, the decision that from generation of electricity, transmission would be the next automatic step - was a wrong decision. First of all we would have to minimise the transmission-distribution losses, and till the time the state electricity boards are not economically viable we would not be able to pay the private power plants .The need of the hour is that in power sector reforms we minimise losses.
BBC listener from Saudi Arabia : Regarding electricity bills which you have waived keeping in mind the elections, what is the guarantee of implementation, if you do not come back to power?
Digvijay Singh : This is not linked to the elections. The problem was that due to lack of rain, the electricity offices were unable to recover the bills - during the last three years just 19 percent of the due amount could be recovered. The state government is paying the electricity board from its exchequer and it is not a case of losses for the board . We are having to cut the grants of other schemes.
Nagendar Sharma, BBC: The condition of roads in your state is considered bad, what do you say on that ?
Digvijay Singh : We are spending more than two thousand five hundred crores of rupees from the state exchequer to improve the road network. What needs to be understood is funds for National Highways passing through the state is given by the centre. For the state highways, the central road fund too is provided by the centre. The state government has to spend money on the major district highways etc. Projects worth Rs 300 crore are pending with the centre, they have taken over some district roads to upgrade them as state highways, but are not providing adequate funds. My charge is that Madhya Pradesh is being discriminated against , whatever might have been the reasons.
Nagendar Sharma, BBC: That is why the Prime Minister has said in Bhopal today that MP needs a state govt. which cooperates with the centre and is heard in Delhi.
Digvijay Singh : I am therefore hopeful of the next government at the Centre being of Congress.
Nagendar Sharma, BBC: Bhopal gas victims were to be provided medical facilities by the state govenment, the local administration, which was not done and they had to approach the Supreme Court ?
Digvijay Singh : This entire process is being monitored by the Supreme Court. The grant which we were supposed to get from the centre on the health care of the Bhopal gas victims, we have not been getting it since past five years. The state government with its limited resources has been doing its best to help the victims. We have written numerous times to the centre, but without any success, even the Supreme Court has put forward the view of the state government, but nothing has happened so far .
Nagendar Sharma, BBC: Coming to the big point, the December first assembly elections. You have hinted Congress towards an understanding with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in the state, when is it being firmed up?
Digvijay Singh : I have not hinted towards any understanding with the BSP, because there has been no such proposal by the BSP so far. If there would be a proposal, the Congress President Sonia Gandhi and the CWC would decide, which would be implemented in this state also.
Nagendar Sharma, BBC: But you had tacit understanding with the BSP in the past elections also, so if there is no clear alliance then is there some other form of understanding?
Digvijay Singh : I cannot talk in vacuum, till the time there is no concrete proposal .
Nagendar Sharma, BBC: There are already reports in Delhi that you had hinted towards an understanding with the BSP. Are you denying such reports?
Digvijay Singh : I am neither confirming nor denying . What I am saying is how can I commit without any proposal ?
Nagendar Sharma, BBC: You have been at the helm of affairs for ten years, asked to assess your government’s performance, how many marks would you give out of 10 ?
Digvijay Singh : I do not like beating about the bush with my achievements. After my first five years, the public of Madhya Pradesh endorsed faith in me. After my second term, I hope that similar faith will be expressed in me and my government.
Transcript Courtesy, BBC Hindi Radio
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