Law on interfaith marriage not against any religion: Shivraj Singh Chouhan
- "If someone tries to lure someone through coercion, threat or any other wrong means, action would be taken. The law is not against any religion."
On completing one year of his third term, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan speaks to HT’s Chetan Chauhan and Madan Jaira of Hindi Hindustan about the challenges of Covid-19, a resurgence in infections and the revenue shortfall the state is facing. He also expressed confidence about the Bharatiya Janata Party winning elections in West Bengal and Assam. Edited excerpts:
In a few days, you would complete a year in office in your third term. You took charge when Covid-19 was spreading fast. How do you rate your first year?
When I took charge, there was no minister with me for one month and Covid-19 was spreading fast... We made arrangements for Covid-19 management, creating testing facility in the states, getting masks, PPE kits and making arrangement in hospitals. Another big challenge was that in March, wheat harvest starts in MP. We bought 1.39 crore metric tonne of wheat, which was even more than Punjab. During Covid-19, we provided work to all workers and ensured that those entering MP get food and buses. On the PM’s call, we turned the Covid-19 pandemic into an opportunity — started Aatmanirbhar in MP and started working on infrastructure, education, health, good governance and employment...
You have been CM for almost 15 years. Your remarks about your other tenures?
In the first tenure, we worked for better roads and brought laws to ensure Public Service Delivery law, first state to do so in India. In the second term, we promised 24-hour power when people were getting five to six hours of power; expanded irrigation network and started river linking projects. In the third one, we got nine awards for being the best agriculture state both by Manmohan Singh ji and Modi ji’s governments. We now have surplus agriculture produce. But, a lot more has to be done on bringing investment.
Despite your claims, MP has very low per capital income and it is one of the lowest-ranked states on health parameters.
When I took charge, MP was a Bimaru state and had Rs.13,000 per capita income. Now it is Rs.99,000; this year, we will cross Rs.1,00,000. Our GDP will cross Rs.10,000 lakh crore. We were a landlocked state and no industry came. Now, we have changed that...
Protesting farmers are demanding a law to protect minimum support price. What is your view?
There should be provisions to give farmers right price for their produce. I think we need to think about alternative ways to ensure the right price. We can provide the right price through schemes such as Bhavanter, in which the government pays the difference between the MSP and the market price to farmers. If the market is buying at less than MSP, the government can pay...
There have been accusations that minority groups are being targeted through the MP Religion of Freedom Law.
There is no question of targeting. It is same for all. If someone tries to lure someone through coercion, threat or any other wrong means, action would be taken. The law is not against any religion. People doing good work for communities can continue.
The second wave of Covid-19 has started and cases in MP are also rising. What steps are being taken to control the spread?
In mid-February, we had 141 new cases and we thought things were getting normal... But in the past 15 days, cases have increased and pace of spread has intensified. People are not wearing masks and are going to social programmes. We need to tell people about the severity of Covid again.
How do you rate the BJP’s chances in West Bengal and Assam?
I went to both the states and I am confident that the BJP wave is there in both. In Bengal, there is a wave of change. TMC has become a symbol of terror, murder and corruption... The Congress has damaged itself by allying with Badruddin Ajmal and BJP has brought all-round development.