Our food security plan is most popular: Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh
Raman Singh says that his BJP government has been elected in Chhattisgarh thrice because people are concerned about development.Updated: Nov 27, 2017 23:12 IST
Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh won three consecutive assembly elections since 2003. As he prepares to seek re-election next year, the BJP CM spoke to Kumar Uttam on farm distress, hunger deaths, land acquisition troubles, and jobs. Excerpts:
You have completed 5,000 days in office. What would you consider your biggest achievement?
Our food security scheme is the most popular. It not only provides food security, but nutritional security and covers about 65 lakh families. There is not a single complaint in seven years, it is a transparent system.
How do you rate your government’s performance so far?
We have managed to leave a mark. Mine-based production has been developed as a core sector. We are producing 30% of the country’s aluminium and 27% of its steel. Only 30% power produced in Chhattisgarh is used locally. State’s GDP has increased from Rs47,000 crore to Rs250,000 crore. We have executed MoUs worth Rs6.47 lakh crore in 14 years. The RBI has declared Chhattisgarh as the best financially managed state. We have become a preferred investment destination. Airports have been developed in Jagdalpur, Bilaspur, Raigadh and Sarguja. Several education institutions have come up and we have a robust policy for farmers’ welfare.
Some states have waived off farm loans to deal with the agrarian distress. Do you think it is the right approach?
I don’t think waiver has a long-term effect because farmers have to take a loan every year. The first solution is to provide credit at zero interest rate. The second is to procure the entire produce at minimum support price. Third, we provide bonus to farmers. This not only gives a remunerative price to them but also ensures there is no hunger death. In Chhattisgarh, we have given one quintal rice to every sarpanch to provide 20kg grain to any distressed family. Cheap power and subsidised farm equipment help.
Why then did farmers protest in Chhattisgarh recently?
There were protests in some sectors, not the entire state. They demanded a bonus and we are providing it... Once the farmers realised it, the protest ended immediately.
Do you think land acquisition is a hurdle in your push for industrialisation?
Land acquisition is a problem. But one can address the discomfort among land holders by providing right remuneration and employment opportunities. We have acquired land for a project in Bastar. There was not a single protest ... Problem arises when adequate payment is not made.
Are you concerned about fewer job creations, particularly after note ban?
There was some problem with labour-intensive industries after demonetisation. There were certain advantages too. Payment of salaries in cash has stopped. Minimum wages are ensured. We supported industry by lowering power tariff and other measures. Industries need such help at times. Not a single plant was shut in Chhattisgarh ... and there is no negative impact on jobs. Mining is providing employment too.
What do you consider as your challenge in the next election?
Every election is a challenge. We have been in power for 14 years. Satisfying 100% people is not possible. This time we will talk about the Sanchar Kranti Yojana through which we will distribute 55 lakh smartphones to youth and poor people.
Do you think Rahul Gandhi can inject new blood in the Congress in your state?
The UP election proved what difference Rahul can bring to the Congress. Today, people are concerned about development. Or we would not have been elected thrice. The difference in vote share between Congress and BJP is not much in assembly polls and we have to put in extra effort. The situation is favourable for us. We had a Congress government at the Centre so far. This time we will have “Modi sarkar” in Delhi. His achievements will have a positive impact on Chhattisgarh. Rahul will have no impact.
First Published: Nov 27, 2017 23:12 IST