It’s been only three months after your defeat in the Assembly election. Is it enough time for the BJP to bounce back?
Three months is a limited time. But in the last three months, the Bhupesh Bhagel government has made so many mistakes that it will be a plus for us.
Within the first 100 days, the Congress government is walking in the exact opposite direction from the vision they presented ahead of the Assembly polls. They promised prohibition. Instead, alcohol prices have gone up and more shops have been opened. They had assured unemployment allowance but out of 23 lakh, not even 23 have got a single penny. The farm loan waiver is also extended to a very limited number of farmers. And they have closed down all social welfare schemes of the BJP government, like the Charan Paduka Yojana (under which footwear was distributed to Tribals collecting tendu leaves). The fiscal deficit has shot up to 6%, the State treasury is empty and there is not enough money to pay even salaries.
The BJP changed all sitting MPs, including your son. What message did the party want to give?
We have been in power in the State since 2003 and simultaneously have been winning the Parliamentary polls too. We had many old faces. A big decision was taken to change all sitting MPs so that our candidates do not carry the burden of the past. And we have got a positive response because of this decision.
The BJP brought in the PM Kisan Yojana to counter the farm loan waiver by Congress governments. Will it be enough?
The Congress may have promised loan waiver but they have only distributed certificates. They have not paid up the amount that was owed to the banks. And the PM Kisan Yojana will have a widespread impact, especially in a State like Chhattisgarh. The Bhagel government is putting up impediments in implementation of this scheme by not letting the Union government collate data. And they will face the farmers’ wrath for this. And the PM Kisan Yojana is not all. We have a zero interest loan scheme, which has already had an impact. And the systems for paddy procurement were placed by us.
What will be the political fallout of the death of your legislator Bhim Mandavi, who had wrested the Dantewada seat, a Congress stronghold?
It is not only the BJP’s loss, but it is also a loss for the entire State. His death is a result of a political conspiracy and his wife too has demanded a CBI inquiry. The way Naxalites have overrun the Bastar region, it is now difficult to walk on the road here. This government has reversed all the advances we made in 15 years, in terms of infrastructure development and confidence-building measures taken by my government.
Since the Modi government talks often of surgical strikes, should there be a surgical strike against Naxals too?
We can carry out surgical strikes across Pakistan, but this strategy cannot be employed here because the Naxals live with the locals. You can’t just go and fire anywhere. Our hands are tied. To identify the Naxals and separate them from the innocent populace is difficult.