When United Nations gave its highest award to Chhattisgarh under the leadership of Dr Raman Singh in recognition of its Human Development Model, he has proved that the education of his Ayurvedic Medicine and the Practice of his Social Medicine will remove all the social diseases of prosperous land of Chhattisgarh. Dr Raman Singh joined Bharatiya Jana Sangh as a youth worker, making his debut in electoral politics as a councilor. He was elected to the then Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly in 1990 and 1993. He won as a BJP candidate from Rajnandgaon Lok Sabha seat and became a Minister of State for Commerce and Industry in NDA government led by Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee. After the formation of Chhattisgarh he became the BJP State President and led the party to a comfortable victory in 2003 and 2008 assembly elections.
For weekly Organiser Amba Charan Vashishth interviewed him in Delhi last week when he spoke on various issues and subjects. Excerpts:
In the first tenure, because of your numerous projects to help the common man, you were being popularly called the ‘chawal wale baba’. What are your achievements during the last two years?
With the love and support of the people, helping hand of the BJP organisation and the blessings of the senior BJP leaders at the Centre, my government has been able to make a mark during the present tenure too.
My government has tried to do all it could for every section of the society. We have provided loans to farmers at 3 percent per annum, lowest in the country. In an effort to provide employment, about 27,000 recruitments have been made in police department. In education about one lakh persons has been provided jobs. Much more is in the pipeline. PDS system has been strengthened. Under CM’s khadyaann sahayata yojna 35 kilograms of ration per month is being provided to about 37 lakh poor families. 2 Kgs of salt is being distributed free. The poorest of the poor families get rice at a rate of ‘Re 1 per Kg. I am planning to add supply of gram too to make the food nutritious. I have discussed this matter with the Union Food Minister recently. APL families too are being helped.
In tribal areas, we are opening a school for every ten children in the village.
What about the economic growth in the State?
Chhattisgarh marked a GDP growth of 11.49 percent in 2009-10 which is higher than the national average and in other States. The State registered a growth rate of 10.9 percent during the last five years. The per capita income in the State almost doubled to 34,483.
There was a furore over the conviction of Dr. Binayak Sen. What do you say?
I have nothing to say. I have full faith in the judiciary and I am sure they will do nothing but justice and justice only.
Your state is suffering from the Naxalite menace. What are you doing to tackle it?
I am doing all I could and I should. But this problem is not confined to one State; it is a problem for the whole nation. The Naxalite-Maoist challenge should be faced by the whole nation collectively and not single-handedly by a State like Chhattisgarh. It is good that the Prime Minister too has said that it is a biggest threat to the nation’s internal security.
In the recent meeting of chief ministers convened by the Centre to face the Naxalite-Maoist threat, I demanded that the State should be reimbursed 700 crore it had to bear to meet in providing security to the life and property of its citizens. The Border Roads Organisation is not performing the job assigned to it for construction of roads in affected areas.
What is your resolve?
As long as my government is there, we are committed to usher in peace in the Naxal-affected areas. I have decided that the State administration will extend its authority in about 5000 sq. Km Aboojhmaar dense forest area in the next one year. At the same time, the doors of my government are always open for a dialogue provided, they shun violence and stop innocent killings. My priority is peace and prosperity.
How do the people view the situation?
People are fed up with everyday violence. Hundreds of innocent men, women and children have lost their lives. Naxalites are the enemies of the innocent, peace-loving, law-abiding citizens. They are standing in the way of rapid development of the area. They don’t allow government functionaries to perform their duty to help the needy people. The entrepreneurs also feel discouraged to invest because of Naxalite threat. Had they helped create peaceful environment conducive to industrial development, poverty, unemployment and illiteracy would have been a thing of the past.
Yet, your government has been able to attract quite a number of industrial houses to your State.
That is true. Because of the rich tourist potential and mineral wealth, numerous entrepreneurs have ventured to put up their units in the State. Some industrial units have come up too. As a result, more and more employment opportunities are being generated.
To what extent are you getting financial or other support from the Congress-led UPA in the matter of development of the State?
The fact is that Congress led UPA government is discriminating against non-UPA state governments in the country. Chhattisgarh is the worst hit. We are not getting adequate supplies of essential commodities to run the PDS system more smoothly and efficiently. In spite of that, we are implementing our policy of providing rations to poor sections at subsidised rates. Even in the matter of allotment of funds under Indira Awas Yojna, MNREGA, PM’s Gram Sadak Yojna and the like the State is being made to starve of funds.
Your State is rich with vast mineral wealth. Yet, it has not helped usher in prosperity to the mineral-rich areas.
The mineral rich States, like Chhattisgarh, suffer from two handicaps. One, minerals are present in forest areas which can have just scanty agriculture. The local population needs to be compensated for the fact of their suffering due to existence of minerals. Two, under the Constitution, laws on minerals can be enacted only by Parliament while their implementation is the responsibility of the States. The country needs a law that, apart from providing for a transparent and domestic industry-friendly licensing regime, is also people-centric. Its implementation should make the local inhabitants feel that reserve of minerals in their area is not a curse, but a boon by nature. The exploitation of minerals should usher in prosperity not only to those who exploit the minerals but also to the people inhabiting the area and the State. The present situation is generating strife and discontentment among the inhabitants. Central government needs to devise a mineral policy in consultation with the concerned States so that it fetches prosperity to the people of the area and revenue to the State for overall development.