Interview | Lok Sabha Election

I have never used the term Hindu terror, says Digvijaya Singh

Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh.   | Photo Credit: K. Murali Kumar

Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh, who is contesting against Pragya Singh Thakur of the BJP in the Bhopal Lok Sabha constituency, has denied that he has ever used the term ‘Hindu terror’ and has described himself as a devout Hindu.

In an exclusive interview to The Hindu, Mr. Singh dared anyone to produce a clip showing him using the term ‘Hindu terror’, a charge the BJP has repeatedly hurled at him.

“I have never said it. Show me a clip where I have called Hindus terrorists. I am a Hindu myself. Why should I call myself a terrorist,” he asked.

The former Chief Minister has been fielded in Bhopal to stem the BJP’s record of winning the seat in every election since 1989.

Excerpts from an interview:

Your party has not won this seat in the past 30 years. Why did you decide to take this seat?

Well, my party wanted me to contest and I said fine, I will contest this seat. And I accepted the challenge.

And what are your prospects?

I am confident that I am going to win the seat.

You are confident?

Yes. I am going to win 100%.

What do have to say about your opponent, Pragya Singh Thakur, who is being backed by the Rashtriya Swayamasevak Sangh (RSS)?

Nothing. I have the highest regard for all my opponents.

I tracked her roadshows in Bhopal where she called the election a dharm yuddh (crusade), and described you as a sutradhar (anchor) who calls Hindus terrorists. She blamed you for coming up with the phrase ‘Hindu terror’. What is your response?

First of all, let me put it on record that I am a devout Hindu and a much-better practising Hindu than anyone of them. I don’t drag religion into politics.

I fight my elections concerning people, their goals, their difficulties, their aspirations, their hopes. Jobs, poverty, infrastructure, these are my issues for the election. Religion is an issue for every person to decide for himself.

Every citizen of this country has been given the right to practise the religion of his choice.

The person who coined the phrase ‘Hindu terror’, R.K. Singh [former Union Home Secretary], was given BJP ticket and inducted into the Cabinet. So, if anyone in the BJP wants to oppose the person who called Hindus terrorists, they should oppose Mr. Singh.

So, you dissociate from the phrase ‘Hindu terror’?

I have never said it. Show me a clip where I have called Hindus terrorists. I am a Hindu myself. Why should I call myself a terrorist?

But you are a strident critic of Hindutva?

I would advise you to talk to my guru, Swami Swaroopanandji, on what he thinks of this word Hindutva. I have not found this word in any of the religious scriptures which have been there for thousands of years in this country. This word was coined by Mr. Savarkar [Hindu Mahasabha ideologue Vinayak Savarkar] who was an Arya Samaji and didn’t believe in sanatan dharma.

But you are being repeatedly attacked over Hindu terror?

That’s their [the BJP] agenda.

So what’s your agenda?

My agenda is employment, how to take people out of poverty, how to remove malnutrition, how to create jobs, better infrastructure, I want to create in and around Bhopal. I want to make Bhopal a pollution-free city with better infrastructure.

Can you believe there is no master plan since 1995? There is a legal requirement to have a master plan every 10 years and in 2005, there should have been one.

Even though I had prepared a development plan by 2003, the BJP government didn't notify it 2005 or 2015 and because of there is total chaos in and around Bhopal.

People have taken permission to develop societies but no infrastructure. There are more than 350 societies which have the permission but have not been taken over by municipal corporation. They are not getting individual connections of water and there is absolute mess in the whole system. I would like to clear this message and would request the State government to create a special Bhopal State capital region on the lines of national capital region. We can develop statelite township on the arteries of Bhopal like the Bhopal-Hoshangabad road, Bhopal-Sehore road, Bhopal-Raisen road, etc.

Bhopal is in the heart of India and if you draw on the compass with a radius of 500 kms, nearly two-third of the consumer cities come within that radius. We can create Bhopal a huge logistics hub, especially for e-commerce and this create huge employment.

We can create software parks, food processing industry, textile industries, educational hub, sports city. These are my ideas which I have given in my vision document.

Voters remember long power cuts and poor roads from your tenure. The common refrain among voters now is Congress ‘aayee bijli gayee’. ‘Bijli, Sadak Pani’ was a big factor during the 2003 Assembly elections. How will you overcome this perception?

Let me tell you one thing: because of the division of the State [Madhya Pradesh], most of the power plants were in Chhattisgarh and most of the consumers were in Madhya Pradesh. There was a problem regarding power supply because of that decision [bifurcation of the State]. But the power plants that I had set up, started generation after the BJP came to power. All the power plants that are operational here were started by me.

There is huge sabotage in the system. There are 32,000 employees who were recruited on contract during the BJP regime. And most of them are BJP supporters.

And we have found that they are the people who are doing unauthorised power cuts and sending messages Congress aayee, bijli gayee. This is part of the conspiracy and the State government has taken action against more than 340 employees who were involved in this.

There was no problem regarding water. And the roads that we had started were completed during their time. All the ADB roads [funded with assistance from Asian Development Bank], all the tolled roads we sanctioned. What have they [the BJP] done?

So finally, how many seats do you give to the Congress in Madhya Pradesh?

I am certainly winning and the Congress will win, at least, 14 to 16 seats out of 29 seats.

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2021 7:34:55 AM |

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