Vinay Sahasrabuddhe , the BJP’s national vice-president and Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) chief, also takes care of Madhya Pradesh party affairs as a central prabhari . He spoke on the outlook for the coming Assembly elections in the State. Excerpts:
The BJP is looking at a fourth term in Madhya Pradesh, and has, in the list of candidates declared till now, dropped only 40 sitting MLAs. Is local anti-incumbency not an issue?
Talking about so called anti-incumbency has become a fashion. There is no particular logic behind this talk of popular feelings against the incumbent government simply because the government is there for 15 years.
When you have a government that has made remarkable progress on all fronts of development, both infrastructure and social, what kind of anti-incumbency can we talk about? Remember, we won the 2003 election on fundamental issues like ‘bijlee, sadak and pani’. And thereafter, there was no looking back. We brought the State out of Bimaru bracket and later worked for basic infrastructure development and now want to take the State towards prosperity. Changing Assembly candidates is a routine thing. It underscores our approach of continuity with change.
What is the main plank on which BJP is seeking a fourth term?
Politics of performance is a new term added to the political lexicon by the BJP, and that continues to be our main plank. Have you ever heard Rahul Gandhi, Mayawati or Communist leaders speaking about politics of performance or of development? We have the moral strength to speak on this convincingly because we have made a difference. On the basis of this track record of ours, we are now resolutely wanting to take Madhya Pradesh into an era of prosperity. Samruddha Madhya Pradesh is our solemn promise. And people have every reason to believe in our promise going by our past performance.
The Opposition has attacked Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s government on the issue of corruption and the Vyapam scam. Your response?
This is nothing but allegation mongering. Recently, Supreme Court almost reprimanded those Congress leaders filing cases to rake up the dead issue of Vyapam, saying they better fight it out through elections. Neither Vyapam, nor any other issue has any substance, and consequently any impact on our electoral prospects. Vyapam, from day one was the case of Congress’s make-believe.
Agricultural distress came to a boil last year in M.P., do you anticipate a political fallout?
When BJP came to power in 2003, the agriculture growth rate was minus-3%. Today, it is more than 20%. Problems today are not that of insufficient farm produce. They are more about abundance. Hence, issues like water scarcity, fertilizer shortage, unavailability of labourers are a thing of the past.
Now there is a different set of issues that the economy of affluence has to grapple with.
And we have dealt with them through our Bhavantar scheme and Sambal scheme. Bhavantar has ensured positive correction in the price structure of farm produce while Sambal has put breaks on production expenditure. Now, whatever the talk of agricultural distress is mainly out of a manufactured unrest.
The State government has announced several welfare schemes, with the finances seeing major debt. What about fiscal accountability?
One can’t forget that Madhya Pradesh is a disciplined economy, well within the fiscal parameters laid down by the Government of India.
The borrowing/repayments of loans used to be 27% of the total budget and the same has come down to 7% in a disciplined manner over the past 15 years, thanks to the good governance of the BJP.
The limit prescribed by the government of India, of up to 3.5% of the fiscal deficit, is never crossed. As per my information, the State never had situations of ‘overdraft’ during the BJP regime. So we can say that despite having 80% population living in primary sector the State is performing well on all fiscal parameters.
The Congress party has also announced several promises related to cow protection and Hindu pilgrimage. What are your views on this?
Of late, Congress has embarked upon a politics of apology, marked very clearly by some guilty conscience. They are in a way trying to clear their spiritual backlog. But as admitted by their party president [Rahul Gandhi], they are essentially confused even on this front.
Regardless of the fact that ban on cow slaughter is a part of our Constitution’s guiding principles, Congress continued to oppose it for the last seven decades and now all of a sudden they are talking about Cow Ministry. It’s nothing more than an attempt to hoodwink the electorate.
They talk of Ram Van Gaman Path but forget that Ramayan starts with Ayodhya and they have not supported the idea of any temple at the so-called disputed site.
With the talk of banning RSS activities, Rahul Gandhi seems to be following his grandmother, Mrs. Indira Gandhi. People of India will never support the forces of emergency and Congress’s politics smacks of promoting them.