Not concerned about CM post... aim is to ensure society’s welfare: Chouhan | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Not concerned about CM post... aim is to ensure society’s welfare: Chouhan

Nov 06, 2023 11:58 AM IST

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is confident of winning a fifth term in the upcoming assembly elections

With assembly elections just a fortnight away, Madhya Pradesh chief minister and senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Shivraj Singh Chouhan is leaving no stone unturned to retain power in the Hindi heartland state. In an interview to Ranjan and Shruti Tomar, the four-time CM discusses his key promises for the November 17 elections, and if growing anti-incumbency and infighting will affect the BJP’s prospects in a state where it has been in power for over 18 of the last 20 years. Edited excerpts

Shivraj Singh Chouhan. (Arvind Yadav/HT PHOTO) PREMIUM
Shivraj Singh Chouhan. (Arvind Yadav/HT PHOTO)

With assembly elections just a fortnight away, Madhya Pradesh chief minister and senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Shivraj Singh Chouhan is leaving no stone unturned to retain power in the Hindi heartland state. In an interview to Ranjan and Shruti Tomar, the four-time CM discusses his key promises for the November 17 elections, and if growing anti-incumbency and infighting will affect the BJP’s prospects in a state where it has been in power for over 18 of the last 20 years. Edited excerpts

You are trying to retain power for the fifth term. How do you think the 2023 assembly elections are different from 2018?

We just rely on our development works and our service to the public ensures good results. And yes, elections this year are different from 2018. The Congress had then managed to win by spreading lies and confusion, it neither waived farmers’ loans nor provided other benefits. Instead, it put a lock on the schemes announced by the BJP government. Besides, the Congress’s unsuccessful 15-month tenure has revealed their reality to the public.

What makes you confident that 2018 will not be repeated?

With full confidence, I can say that the Bharatiya Janata Party is forming the government for the fifth time in Madhya Pradesh.

It’s the first time after two decades that the BJP’s national leadership is showcasing a collective leadership in MP, instead of projecting one face of the party.

Every decision in the BJP is taken collectively. It is not limited to one family, like the Congress.

If the BJP wins, would you like to become CM for the fifth time?

It is the job of the party leadership to decide. I am an ordinary worker of the BJP and it is my responsibility to discharge the responsibilities decided by it.

You have done so much work for the development of MP and gained mass popularity. So, why is the BJP hesitant in declaring your name as a CM candidate.

I don’t think so. I am already the chief minister. It is the party’s plan and that’s why I am addressing 10-12 rallies day and night. There is no question of being CM face or not. I don’t run a government but a family. I am running my family and I am not concerned about the post. I am Shivraj Singh Chouhan and these small things can’t leave any impact on my personality and deeds.What do you say about the anti-incumbency mood in public, particularly after 18 years of BJP being in power?

The BJP is the only worker-based party, our aim is to serve Mother India and ensure welfare of the society. There is no such thing as anti-incumbency in our party. The BJP is the largest political party in the world because of its workers.

Is fielding seven MPs, including three ministers, a part of the party’s strategy to negate anti-incumbency?

See, BJP works as per the decisions of the party. The party leadership directed them to contest the elections and they did. Only the BJP can do this. We have been friends and working together since we were in Yuva Morcha. Even today, we contest elections on the instructions of the party leadership.

Do you think the Ladli Behna scheme is going to prove a game changer for you?

Ladli Behna Yojana is a campaign for women empowerment. It is not an election scheme or a ritual. It is a campaign to change the lives and empower sisters by increasing their respect, self-respect and economic strength. The BJP government has launched many such schemes for the welfare of sisters and daughters. Therefore, their blessings will always be with the BJP.

There is a lot of focus on women in the BJP. Can we expect a woman chief minister in MP?

We have empowered women with a series of schemes and through self-help groups. In panchayat elections, 17,000 women have been elected across posts, including that of sarpanch, district panchayat president, janpad president. So, there is a possibility in the future.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke against revadi culture. Don’t you think it’s high time that political parties should desist from offering freebies?

The BJP works on the principle of antyodaya (uplifting of the weakest section of society). We work with the aim of upliftment of the last person in the last line, who is poor and in immediate need. We take decisions in that direction to provide financial help through ration schemes and are providing help to the needy as per their requirement. We are also working in the direction of providing employment opportunities. On the lines of Learn and Earn, we have started Sekho Kamao scheme to ensure youngsters get employment and fulfil their financial needs. Look at the Ladli Behna Yojana, women have collected money and are starting small businesses. Some are buying sewing machines while others are opening shops. Our goal is to promote self-reliance, but first cater to the basic needs of the poor.

The state is reeling under loans of more than 3 lakh crore. Do you have any plan to meet the expenditure of welfare schemes without increasing the burden of loan on people of the state?

See, Madhya Pradesh is ahead in terms of capital expenditure, as per the criteria of the Government of India. We have not stopped any development work. Before 2003, the budget of Madhya Pradesh was only 21,000 crore, but today it has increased to more than 314,000 crore. We have set goals and are working towards achieving them.

The state BJP leaders are slightly upset with the party high command taking over the state unit for elections. Is this true and what you have to say about it?

The BJP takes every election very seriously. PM Narendra Modi is our role model and the most popular leader in the world. Central leadership goes to the state in every election. I also visit other states during elections.

Buoyed by its victories in Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka, the Congress is convinced of its victory in MP too. Rahul Gandhi said his party would get 150 seats.

Congress only makes hollow claims. It has only lied in Madhya Pradesh and spread confusion, but nothing was done. Even in 2018, Congress made more than 900 false promises to the public, but failed to fulfil any in the 15-month tenure. This time, the Congress has again brought a false promissory note of 1,290 promises because their government is not going to be formed.

Former CM and Congress leader Kamal Nath is making allegations of corruption on you? What do you want to say?

Who can be more corrupt than Kamal Nath? During Income Tax raids, everything was found around him only. I never make personal comments on anyone but he made Vallabh Bhawan (secretariat) a base of corruption so he has no right to question anyone.

What are the issues in the elections this year? Don’t you think price rise, corruption, unemployment, farmers’ plight are major issues?

The issue of development is important. Our focus is also on unemployment. We are doing whatever possible for the farmers and will continue to do so in the future. The prosperity of the country and the state lies in the prosperity of the farmers.

Are you satisfied with the socio-economic progress achieved during your 18 years in office?

Yes, of course I am satisfied with my work. Today, you can see we ended discrimination between sons and daughters through the Ladli Lakshmi Yojana in Madhya Pradesh. The sex ratio is equal in our state. Earlier, there were 927 daughters for every 1,000 sons, but today there are 956 daughters. Before 2003, agricultural growth rate used to be at 3%, but now it is around 10%. Earlier, the power generation capacity was only 5,000 MW, and now it is more than 28,000 MW. Earlier, the total budget of the state was around 23,000 crore and now it is more than 314,000 crore.From welfare of farmers to women and youth, we have done better work in every direction.

If BJP comes to power, what will be your three priorities?

My first priority is to make my sisters lakhpati by ensuring that they earn at least more than 1 lakh annually. The second priority is to provide irrigation facilities in every farm land and third is to develop health care and education sectors further. One more would be to provide one job to every family.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Ranjan Srivastava leads HT’s coverage from Bhopal. He has spent more than two decades in journalism in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, covering political and other affairs. For the past 16 years, he has been working in Madhya Pradesh.

  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    She is a senior reporter based at Bhopal. She covers higher education, social issues, youth affairs, woman and child development related issues, sports and business & industries.

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