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Lok Sabha elections 2019: ‘Income tax raids meant to create atmosphere of fear,’ says Kamal Nath

“BJP is so bankrupt that it couldn’t find a candidate for Bhopal [from its own leaders]. They are trying to cause a division in society. After all, what kind of political or administrative experience does Pragya Thakur have?” said Kamal Nath

lok sabha elections Updated: Apr 27, 2019 07:31 IST
Ranjan
Ranjan
Hindustan Times
lok sabha,pragya thakur,chhindwara
In an interview, Madhya Pradesh CM Kamal Nath spoke on a range of topics, including election issues and the income tax raids on his close aides earlier this month.(Mujeeb Faruqui/HT Photo)

Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath is donning several hats in this election season. A chief minister who has to steer his party against a strong rival, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in the general elections, a father who has to ensure victory for his son Nakul in the family’s pocket borough, Chhindwara, and a politician preparing to face an assembly by-poll. In an interview, the top Congress leader spoke on a range of topics, including election issues and the income tax raids on his close aides earlier this month. Edited excerpts:

Having been a member of Parliament nine times, it’s the first time in your political career that you are contesting an assembly election (by-poll) while your son is making his electoral debut from the Chhindwara Lok Sabha seat. Do you find different issues are at play in both the constituencies?

I don’t think there are different issues. Issues are same but it’s my first experience to face an election for state assembly. I had 75 days to work out of 102 days in government when the model code of conduct for Lok Sabha polls came into force. People of the state are witness to what the state government has done. Hence, there is support of people in both the elections.

Did your son Nakul Nath want to contest Lok Sabha polls on his own or did you ask him to do so?

It was the people of Chhindwara who came up with this demand and then I had to tell him to
contest.

What was your advice to your son and why did you say to people ‘Tear his clothes if he doesn’t perform’?

My advice to him was to gain the trust of the people and then turn it into their faith. Their generations have voted for me (in the past 40 years) and I wish he is going to do the same thing. As far as my remark is concerned, I said that in jest.

Recently you said there was going to be a hung Parliament. Why did you say so?

All the opposition parties have one objective today which is to defeat the BJP. What I said was, if there was going to be a hung Parliament all the opposition parties should sit together and discuss the way out [to form government].

In case of a hung Parliament, do you think there are chances of Congress president Rahul Gandhi becoming the Prime Minister?

The opposition parties should sit together [after the results].

There seems to be discontent among farmers in Madhya Pradesh over the waiver of a low amount of loan by the government. Don’t you think it will affect the Congress’ credibility in its campaign on Nyay [minimum income guarantee of Rs 72,000 per annum to the poorest section]?

There is no discontent. Our promise was to waive loans up to Rs 2 lakh per head. If a farmer has got a loan, of say about Rs 60,000, he cannot be given Rs 2 lakh. We have started the process and out of 47 lakh farmers eligible for the loan waiver, loans of 21 lakh farmers have been waived.

Is Congress not worried over its prospects after the BJP fielded Pragya Thakur as its candidate from Bhopal?

BJP is so bankrupt that it couldn’t find a candidate for Bhopal [from its own leaders]. They are trying to cause a division in society. After all, what kind of political or administrative experience does Pragya Thakur have? She doesn’t have any political or administrative experience except her divisive stand. BJP is trying to polarise the voters but they have failed.

If BJP is trying to polarise voters, what is Congress doing to thwart it?

She [Pragya Thakur] stands exposed. People of Bhopal are not foolish that they don’t understand such things. They have never seen her. Suddenly she arrives and starts attacking with her statements on Babri Masjid, uniformed soldiers etc. It will not work.

BJP leaders, including your predecessor Shivraj Singh Chouhan often said the Congress government would fall anytime. Any comment?

They have to keep their morale high. That’s why they have to say all these things.

BJP leaders say [Congress leader] Digvijaya Singh is super CM in context of massive transfers in the state.

I am the CM. There is no other CM.

How do you see the income tax department raids on your close associates recently?

Whatever they have seized, they have seized from some people [like Ashwin Sharma] who I don’t know. But they [the income tax department] are saying these people are connected with Kamal Nath. This is a falsehood. This is only to create an atmosphere of fear among people but they are badly mistaken.

Is the economic offences wing (EOW) filing an FIR [in which some politicians are mentioned as accused] in the e-tendering case in the aftermath of the I-T raids a quid pro quo?

No, it’s not a quid pro quo. The inquiry on e-tendering was ordered by the previous government. Only the FIR has been lodged now.

First Published: Apr 27, 2019 07:14 IST

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