There is pro-incumbency, people see BJP has transformed their lives: Scindia
Due to the development work of the BJP for 18 years, MP is heading towards hitting the highest points on social welfare indicators, Jyotiraditya Scindia said
Civil aviation minister and BJP leader Jyotiraditya Scindia has addressed over 100 rallies in 60 assembly seats, and aims to cover more than 100 assembly segments by the time he is done ahead of the November 17 Madhya Pradesh assembly polls. In the middle of his whirlwind campaign tour, he spoke to Chetan Chauhan and Ranjan on a range of issues including why he left the Congress in 2020 with 22 MLAs leading to fall of the Kamal Nath-led government, the Congress’s Hindutva plank in MP, the BJP’s decision to field seven MPs including three union ministers and not declaring a chief ministerial candidate for the first time since 2008. Edited excerpts.
What is the difference between the 2018 and 2023 elections?
The first point is the development agenda of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the transition of Madhya Pradesh from a Bimaru state to a progressive one. In 2018, when I was part of the Congress party, it was thought that we could better that. Unfortunately, what resulted in the 15-month-long government was pure nepotism, favouritism and corruption. None of the promises were adhered to; people wanted change. The change that came in 2020 resulted in tremendous development in terms of roads, bridges, irrigation projects, and airports across the length and breadth of MP. Social welfare projects such as Ladli Behna scheme were brought in.
Due to the development work of the BJP for 18 years, MP is heading towards hitting the highest points on social welfare indicators, as compared to the nadir to which it had fallen to prior to 2003 (when the Congress was in power).
The BJP has been power for 18 years and people say there is anti-incumbency.
Let me give you my own experience of directly being in politics for 20 years and indirectly for another 20 years. If you look for a characterisation of anti-incumbency , it is when leaders of the ruling party go to public meetings, people are upset and they don’t respond t and end up hooting you. That is the first character.
The second characteristic is evident in election results. That party against whom anti-incumbency is there is erased in people’s memory. The lucid and clear example of this is the experience of the Congress in the 2003 MP assembly elections . It was decimated and ended up with 37 out of 230 seats in the state assembly. That is called anti-incumbency.
I would say, there is pro-incumbency as people realise that the BJP has transformed their lives. MP had 44,000km of roads in 2003 and today we have 5 lakh km of roads. Then we generated 5,100 MW of power, today we have 29,000 MW. We had 7.68 lakh hectares of farmland under irrigation, today 48 lakh hectares is under irrigation. We had only 7,510 doctors then and today we have 51,000 doctors in MP. It is just a vignette for you of the change that has come in MP because of the BJP.
Kamal Nath and the Congress have played the Hindutva card consistently over the last five years.
You need to understand that there are people who carry belief in their heart, and there are others who just wear it on their sleeves. When the day is over, they take their shirt off. That is the characterisation of the Congress party. During elections, you will see every Congress leader making a beeline for temples. The minute the election is over, you will not see them anywhere. Voters know this. During the coronavirus, the Congress workers never came out, it was the BJP that worked for people across the state. Some people are seasonal tourists, what to do.
Since you left the Congress, the party in MP has been attacking you on different issues and accusing you of snatching people’s mandate through rebellion.
I have nothing to say. The breach of promises, corruption and nepotism that the Congress displayed, they received an answer for those. Fifteen months is not a short period in government. Not even a single promise was implemented, no new scheme came in those 15 months. Not even a single farmer got a farm loan waiver. When this breach of promise was happening, and on the other side there is a powerful and pro-poor leader like Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the choice before me was easy. I took the decision in favour of people of MP and schemes such as Ladli Behna, Garib Kalyan Aan (food) Yojna, which the PM has extended for five years now, PM Awas Yojana, in which 44 lakh homes have been built in MP, Ujawala Yojana have been implemented. The BJP government in the state has worked for social development, irrigation, infrastructure, industrialisation. We got only 1.5 years as 1.5 years was lost due to Corona, yet there has been stupendous development.
In the state assembly, BJP minister in state government, Kamal Patel, said farm loans of 26 lakh farmers were waived during 15 months of Congress government.
BJP has not said this. That was an erroneous statement which he also retracted. Not even a single person’s loan was waived.
Since 2008, the BJP has always projected a CM candidate in MP. This time, the elections are being contested in the name of PM and the party.
Every state is different. Every period is different. There is time when CMs are projected, there are times when CMs are not projected. It is not a cookie cutter approach everywhere. Having said that, the BJP is completely united in MP this time. In that milieu of BJP leaders if someone has to be credited for transformation of MP, if not 100%, minimum, I may say, 90% of that credit goes to (CM) Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
The BJP has fielded seven MPs and three Union ministers suggesting a race for the CM’s post.
You haven’t got the point. Fielding Union ministers and members of Parliament is all part of the BJP strategy. The BJP strategy was that strong seats should be kept secure. The seats that are strong for the Congress, you must field the most capable person there and wrest the seat from the Congress. The two first lists of the BJP included seats which the Congress has won many times, and these MPs and union ministers have been fielded in these . We have taken fight to the Congress. The seats Congress thought were in their bag are no longer secure . We have already secured our strong seats. That is the strategy.
In 2018, the BJP was short of the majority mark of 116 by five seats. How many seats do you think the BJP will win this time?
In the last elections, two things happened. First, the Congress party got unexpected and unbelievable results in the Gwalior-Chambal region. Out of 34 seats, the Congress won 26 and the BJP got only 7. In 72 years of India’s Independence, the Congress party has never won more than 18 seats in Gwalior-Chambal region. Even if the Congress had won 20 seats, which would have been a record, what would have happened. The BJP would have gone from 109 to 115 and Congress would have gone down to 108 from 114. The second thing that happened was that in the Vindhya region, the BJP got 24 out of 30. These are the two outliers that happened in the 2018 MP elections. That is the reason why the BJP was at 109 and the Congress was at 114. This time, I am very confident, that the BJP will get a full majority.
Will the Gwalior -Chambal region go in favour of the BJP this time since you have joined the party?
The BJP won seven of the 34 seats in 2018 in Gwalior-Chambal region and I am confident we will win the elections this time.
The PM has been coming to MP frequently. How important is the PM factor in the MP polls? It is huge. He very much looks forward [to the visits] as he strengthens every (administrative) division, wherever he visits. He has visited four of MP’s seven divisions already.
In Karnataka and Himachal, the Congress announced a slew of freebies, that helped the party to form the government. In MP, the Congress has made about 1,200 promises.
This they (Congress) also did in 2018. What did they do after coming to power? They enjoyed fruits of power; there was no accountability, there was no transparency. There was no desire to service. It has happened once, why will it happen again? The beauty is that they have come out with 5Gs (five guarantees) in MP and we have already implemented them. They are making you dream and then will turn the dream into a nightmare like what they did in 2018.
This competitive politics of offering freebies has resulted in MP reeling under debt of more than ₹3 lakh crore. In case, the BJP has to implement its promises the debt will further increase.
Take the example of Ladli Behna Yojna. My question to you is , can India become an economic superpower without taking care of 50% of its population, that is women? The bottom of the pyramid has to be brought into the national mainstream. The only way you can bring this bottom of the pyramid into the national mainstream is by empowering them. Take an example self-help groups in Madhya Pradesh. We have empowered self-help groups of women over the last 18 years. For instance, in Rajgarh, a group which started selling cow milk with a grant of ₹50,000 has grown into a SHG of 10,000 women. That is empowerment. So, now you empower people to be a part of a national mission of development…You have to empower women and with ₹1,250 in their hands under Ladli Behna scheme i.e. ₹15,000 a year they will take care of the health needs of their family. If there is a wedding in the family, they will save this money for three years and spend ₹45,000 on the wedding. This is all going to be a part of the economic cycle.
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