The Congress has shown that it can reverse the trend of ruling parties winning by-elections, Jyotiraditya Scindia told ET’s Aman Sharma ahead of the bypolls in Kolaras and Mungaoli assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh. Considered a front runner for being declared the party’s chief ministerial candidate ahead of the assembly election in the state due in December, he said there are no longer any rivalries among state Congress leaders and that he has a warm working relationship with senior leader Kamal Nath. Excerpts:
How do see the two upcoming by-elections in Madhya Pradesh next month given the Congress won the Chitrakoot by-election last year?
Congress not only won the Chitrakoot bypoll, before that we won the Ater bypoll in Bhind. We also won many of the municipal elections. So this is coming on the back of a sustained trajectory of Congress victories. The upcoming bypolls in Kolaras and Mungaoli will be a very important turning point before the assembly polls. I am very confident that people of MP have made up their minds to get rid of this anti-farmer, anti-women and anti-youth government of Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
Do you agree with the BJP’s contention that the Congress won the bypolls in seats it had held earlier and that the next two bypolls, in your constituency, are also easy seats?
No election should ever be taken lightly and no seat should be assumed an easy seat or difficult. Generally by-elections always go in favour of the party that is in government. And in MP, we have shown in the last one year how we can reverse that trend. The BJP is left with no other answer but to say this was a Congress seat.
Do you think the Congress should declare a CM face early in Madhya Pradesh?
I don’t want to respond to that question vis-a-vis Madhya Pradesh because it would be unfair of me to answer that, having a vested interest myself. But I will say that across the country, wherever the Congress has leadership capabilities, those have to be promoted and put forth. Today, in our democracy, people want to know who they are going to be voting for and who they are going to be reposing their faith in. But that is not again a one shoe-fits-all analogy. Different states may have different issues. But where you have capability and talent, that has to be put forward. Wherever Congress has leadership capabilities and talent in people, those have to be promoted, put forth.
Kamal Nath has already said he can work under your leadership…
I have a wonderful relationship with Mr Kamal Nath. I share a very warm and very strong relationship with him. We are working together to ensure that we get rid of this government in Madhya Pradesh. This is not a fight for the Congress party alone. This is a fight for the future of 7.5 crore people of the state.
Some BJP members say rivalry among senior Congress leaders in MP would be the bane of the party. Digvijaya Singh is on a Narmada yatra…
There are no longer any rivalries. We are all working together with the common goal of unseating this government and working for the benefit of our people.
How would you respond to Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s claims that under his leadership the state has become better than the US or UK?
See the situation on the ground. Farmers are being shot in cold blood, they are being jailed on a daily basis, they are being beaten up. Across the board, there is no infrastructure and there is no development. Malnutrition is rampant. It is a very sorry state of affairs for a government which has been in power for 14 years now.
While some states such as UP and Maharashtra have waived farmers’ loans, MP has not…
At the Centre, the Congress had shown how we can do a national loan waiver, executed at (a cost of) Rs 72,000 crore in 2008. Farmers are being strangulated from both sides. On the one hand there is rising input costs and on other hand there is falling minimum support prices (MSP). What happened to the vacuous statement of theirs (BJP’s) that krishi ko laabh ka dhandha banayenge (they would turn farming profitable)? Or that they would guarantee prices that are 50% above MSP? All of those were chunavi jumlas (empty campaign promises). Every step has to be taken to ensure that farmers get remunerative prices – whether through a farm loan waiver or decreasing cost of inputs or increasing MSP. In MP, the VAT rate on diesel is the highest and electricity prices are going through the roof for farmers. Farmers are being driven to commit suicide, and 21,000 have done so in the last 16 years.
The Centre is highly impressed with MP’s Bhavantar scheme to give farmers the differential if their crop sells below MSP…
The Bhavantar scheme is actually a Bhrastachar Anant (corruption unlimited) scheme. Soya and urad prices have fallen over 10% since the introduction of the scheme. This is another example of the suit-boot policy of this government. Traders are forcing farmers to sell at a discount. Farmers have not benefited – in fact, it has been to their detriment. The scheme is only available to registered farmers and only 1% of the farming community in MP has been registered as of now. Only an allocation and distribution of Rs 50 crore has been done under the Bhavantar scheme, which is ridiculous compared to the announcement that has been made. No money has reached the farmers’ accounts either. Basically, it is not a scheme, it is a scam.
Source : timesofindia