‘I would like to be identified as ordinary worker’
What should be done to revive the Congress?
Hard work. Merely criticising each other or the government won’t do. It is high time all leaders came out to boost the workers’ morale.
On what issues?
The issues are very clear — roads, electricity and water. The Congress must focus on the farmerss’ grievances. They constitute nearly 80 per cent of the State’s population. All the big talk of industrial growth is meaningless if the farmers’ problems remain unresolved. The farmer in BJP rule is in dire straits. The Congress must take up cudgels against the government on his behalf.
Are you confident that the Congress workers are adequately charged up for the task?
Aren’t competitive rallies creating confusion among workers on leadership issue?
There is no confusion. We have only one leader, that is Soniaji. We all have to work under her leadership. Our concern should be the ordinary party worker who keeps the momentum of agitation against the government alive and suffers lathi blows.
There is talk in the Congress that a young dynamic leader should take charge of the party for the next election. Are you ready for such a responsibility?
It is a hypothetical question. I don’t believe that you can’t work to strengthen the party without any specific responsibility. I would rather like to be identified among ordinary party workers as one of them. They
are the real source of my strength.
‘No grudge if I’m removed’
The Congress is in a pathetic state in Madhya Pradesh. Comment. The Congress has only gained after the debacle in the recent Assembly by-elections. If your opinion is based on these results, let me tell you these do not reflect people’s support for the ruling party.
But a lot of people in your party hold you responsible for poor show of the Congress in by-elections. The by-election results need to be interpreted in the right perspective. After analysing every thing, if the party high command decides to remove me from State chief post, I will not have any grudge. But before that, there should be a review of who is doing what in Madhya Pradesh Congress. I don’t want anyone to support me blindly. If anyone feels that I am in the wrong, he has every right to voice discontent.
Digvijay Singh is said to have declared Ajay Singh as chief ministerial candidate of the Congress in next elections at the Tikamgarh rally. Your reaction?
Digvijay Singh is a senior leader and he should conduct himself responsibly. Doesn’t he know how a chief minister is elected?
He seems more interested in projecting himself rather than doing something for the party. If he were really concerned about the party, he should undertake hunger strike, go to jail.
Is there any dearth of issues against the BJP Government in MP? What do you propose to do to strengthen the party in the near future?
We need to reach out to masses in villages. We are raising issues but only in district headquarters and at block levels. It is people in villages who need to be addressed. They are our voters, people in urban areas don’t vote for us in any case.
‘Unity key to gain strength’
Is the Congress moving in the right direction?
Yes. One can see clear signs of Congress resurgence. Party workers are getting charged up. People are looking to the Congress as the BJP Government has proved to be an utter disaster.
What makes you so confident about the Congress’ upswing and BJP’s downfall?
It’s difficult to imagine the ground realities sitting in Bhopal. In rural areas there is no governance. Look what happened in Sabalgarh on Monday. Farmers are frustrated across the State. No fertiliser, no power, no government support. I sensed their disillusionment wherever I went.
Is the present leadership able to guide the party as a strong alternative to the BJP?
I won’t comment on the leadership issue. It’s for the party high command to decide. I’m a committed soldier of the Congress and as such will do whatever I’m asked to do.
How in your view can the party gain strength?
Unity is the key. And when I am talking about unity, I mean unity at all levels, not just among big leaders. Recently a report appeared in a section of the media of your projection as Congress chief ministerial candidate by Digvijay Singh. That was totally baseless and mischievous. It took me totally by surprise.
It is okay if some smalltime leaders in small gatherings are emotionally carried away to call someone “Our Bhavi Mukhyamantri.” That kind of over-enthusiasm is understandable. But it is utterly preposterous to assume that a senior party leader like Digvijay Singh ji would declare me chief ministerial candidate.