'I am certain of victory'

Print edition : December 05, 2003

Interview with Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijay Singh.

Although he is battling an anti-incumbency factor and widespread public dissatisfaction over the condition of roads and a power crisis in the State, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijay Singh appeared confident of a Congress(I) victory in the Assembly elections. Excerpts from an interview he gave Siddharth Narrain at his residence in Bhopal:

How do you rate your chances of winning the elections?

I am certain that we will win the elections with an absolute majority.

You have been in power for two terms. What does your government have to show that will outweigh the anti-incumbency factor?

My efforts have been to concentrate on the social sector. I have concentrated on the needs of the illiterate, undernourished and deprived sections of society. The government has looked at the issues of health, education, gender equality, water harvesting and decentralisation. These have led to a high growth rate. Madhya Pradesh's gross domestic product (GDP) grew at the rate of more than 6 per cent for nine of the past 10 years.

Anti-incumbency works when there is centralisation of power; when there is decentralisation, it gets reduced to that extent.

How do you explain the power crisis and the bad state of the roads in Madhya Pradesh?

Power sector reforms will take time to show results. We plan to generate 3,000 MW of additional power by 2007 and set up high-voltage transmission lines and transformers to improve power distribution. We also plan to implement a Rs.1,700-crore project - for which Rs.900 crores will be provided by the Asian Development Bank - for the construction of State highways and main district roads.

What is your response to Bharatiya Janata Party leader Uma Bharati's allegations about you being linked to a land scam involving Indore-based businessman Subhash Gupta?

Subhash Gupta has already given a statement that refutes her allegations in detail. If she has any specific allegations, she should file an affidavit with the Lok Ayukta. She is using the media to spread canards without any factual basis.

The BJP's national general secretary Shivraj Singh Chauhan has filed his nominations in Ragogarh, from where you are contesting. Do you predict a tough fight?

No. It is the electorate that fights the elections, and people in my constituency will vote for me.

How important is the Bahujan Samaj Party factor in the elections?

The BSP will be crucial in this elections, but the Congress(I) will get support from the weaker sections.

Do you think the results of the elections will be a reflection of what people feel about the Central government's rule?

No, this election is being fought on the basis of State issues only.

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