Congress versus Congress in 20 constituencies--link---p12
Development is the main plank on which Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh of the Bharatiya Janata Party is seeking the people’s mandate for a second term. Singh spoke to Ejaz Kaiser on a wide range of poll-related issues recently. Excerpts:
What is your party’s mantra for success in this assembly election?
Chhattisgarh has been placed on the path of development, which it had never seen before, it is a zero power-cut state, the tribals are getting their due, rice is available for the poor at Rs 3 per kg and more importantly, (Ajit) Jogi's regime of fear and terror is gone.
Your party has distributed tickets to 46 new faces. Was it because of the fear of anti-incumbency?
The party began its election preparation much before the poll dates were announced. I don’t think there is any anti-incumbency factor against us. We provided an opportunity to new faces and we hope this formula will lead our party to victory.
How do you think your party and the Congress will perform this time?
As the key contest is between the BJP and the Congress, we know both the parties are likely to get at least 30 seats each but our party definitely has an edge, based on our performance.
How confident are you about retaining tribal support?
Tribal support for our party was at its peak in 2003 and we may not be able to get more this time. But based on our welfare measures for tribals, we hope to keep intact the seats we won in 2003.
Why has the BJP failed to check the largescale Naxal violence in the state?
The rise in violence was more a reaction to our decision to support the peaceful anti-Naxal campaign by tribals. We successfully controlled the Naxal menace in north Chhattisgarh. One needs to have patience to see the results of the Salwa Judum campaign as the fight is against a three-decades-old problem.
Will Salwa Judum be a campaign issue for your party?
The issues will differ in tribal and non-tribal areas. The Salwa Judum campaign, which is aimed towards restoring peace and development, would be a factor for the party in the Bastar region. It could affect the poll outcome this time.
Your government has been criticised for misusing the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act…
The vision and motive behind the Act is clear. It leaves no scope for anyone to criticise it except those who are determined to attack the government for whatever it does.