Madhya Pradesh Congress chief PCC Radha Kishan Malviya talks to Hindustan Times
Q. What prospects do you see for the Congress in the forthcoming State As-sembly elections?
A. We are on a strong footing. The Con-gress will come back to power.
Q. Reasons for this optimism?
A. Achievements of our Government over the past decade, political analysis, feed back from workers, ground situation as we come across on our tours, it all suggests victory of the Congress.
Q. What are the achievements of Congress Government you are referring to? They seem very vague in nature like decentralisation of power, empowerment of masses et al. Do you have anything concrete to offer to the people on this front?
A. There was drought in the State for the past successive three years. The State Government handled the situation very well despite lack of support from the Cen-tre. Nobody died of starvation, water was provided to all, drought relief works were carried out in all the affected areas, there was hardly any migration. This is no mean achievement. Now, the Government has waived the electricity bills of farmers and slum dwellers. We have met all our promises that the BJP seldom does. Peo-ple are vigilant and take note of every-body’s words and deeds. They are the source of our confidence to retain power.
Q. What about antiincumbency? Don’t you sound a little too optimistic when you claim to be forming Government for the third consecutive term?
A. There is no resentment among the people. Digvijay has done a good job. Your personality tells whether you come to power for a day or a decade. We believe in people’s wisdom. They will judge us like a good judge does.
Q. But, the BJP seems to have a lot of material against Digvijay Government. They have brought out a complete booklet of charges against his Government.
A. The BJP has no issues. They create issues. They will only choose sites for temple construction, where there is dis-pute. They only wish to acquire Bhojshala and Ayodhya. They will never go to a place, which is undisputed, and construct a temple there. Power is no more an issue after waiving of electricity bills. Roads do require some more work but it would also be set in order soon.
Q. Digvijay Singh, of late, seems to have become an adept social engineer from an engineer. Sharpening caste divide, consolidating caste votes at the cost of social harmony et al.
A. No. We have sought to empower all sections of the society and not at the cost of one against another. If land was given to Dalits, it was Government’s own land. The backward classes were not left out ei-ther. Reservation for the OBCs was raised to 27 per cent. They are also being offered many facilities, which SCs/STs get. A 21-point agenda has been chalked out for minority welfare. We have left nobody nor left any issue for the BJP.
Q. But, Digvijay Singh was reported to have said that he did not care for the votes of upper castes?
A. The issue was blown out of propor-tion by the media. He had only said that oppressors, exploiters would not be spared howsoever powerful they might be.
Q. Which are the regions, where the Congress hopes to fare well?
A. We shall do better all across the State. Even in areas where we were a little weak like Bundelkhand and Chambal, we have improved out position.
Q. Is there any possibility of alliance with the BSP in the changed circum-stances?
A. We are not for alliance but if the par-ty High Command decides, we shall abide by it.
Q. But, if BSP offers to help you defeat the BJP as BSP chief Mayawati has vowed to do?
A. We don’t need their help. They will ask for seats, where our workers will go then. We can defeat the BJP on our own.
Q. Are you fully prepared for the election?
A. Prepared? We are ahead of all par-ties and even the Congress units in other four states going to polls in December. Our manifesto is ready, Tickets are being decided and we hope to announce candidates by Deepawali.
Q. What happens if the BJP plays the Hindutva card and communalises the atmosphere just ahead of elections?
A. Law will do its work. But one is thing for sure. It is our Government in the State and riots would not be allowed to take place anywhere.
Q. What are the highlights of your manifesto?
A. Details I cannot give you. But, it has something for all sections of the society. I can assure you, it would be far better than manifestoes of all other parties.
Q. Fringe parties in the State are also trying to come up in a big way in the elections. Does it not worry the Congress?
A. It is a straight fight between the Congress and the BJP in the State. None of the other parties would matter.
Q. In a way, this election is a personality clash also. Digvijay Vs Uma Bharti.
A. Let the people evaluate them. On the one hand, they have an educated, sobre, hardworking and far-sighted leader and a Sadhvi with little known credentials on the other. History is replete with examples of people, who gave up their throne and kingdom for greater good of humanity. But, nobody has heard of somebody, who renounced the world and then came back trying to grab the throne as Uma Bharti is doing. Once steeped in spirituality, a person is supposed to work for spiritual development of human race, teach masses, prop-agate values but it is strange for a sadhu or a sadhvi to plunge into politics and struggle for power! ‘Congress will do well throughout the State ’