Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel spoke to Vinod Sharma in Bhopal, where he was campaigning for senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, about the Congress’s in his state, the impact polls there have on neighbouring Madhya Pradesh, and the development challenges facing his administration.
The Congress’s performance in states where it is in a direct fight with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will have a big impact on the final tally of the anti-BJP Opposition. What will the contribution to the score from Chattisgarh be?
In the assembly elections, former CM Dr Raman Singh talked about Narendra Modiji’s bada chehra [big face]. But as the campaign progressed, Modi’s face got smaller and Raman Singh’s bigger on the BJP hoardings.
We defeated their leadership in the state and at the Centre by getting a three-fourths majority.
The 15-year-old BJP regime got reduced to 15 seats in the 90-member House. We’ll repeat the performance in the parliamentary polls – we will win all of the 11 Lok Sabha seats.
In the past three elections, the party that was in government in the state won the maximum parliamentary seats. The BJP has been winning with a 10-1 margin.
Their victory margins for the Lok Sabha seats used to be thin because we used to have about 39 assembly seats and they would have 49.
The gap, effectively, was of five seats – had they lost five to us, we could have the majority.
Yes, the gap is much bigger; we have 68 seats and they have 15. As per past trends, people will vote for us since we are in government.
Moreover, we’ve fulfiled the promises Rahul Gandhi made [in the assembly campaign] – farm loan waivers, ₹2,500 per quintal for paddy, enforcement of the forest rights act, reduction of power tariff by half, and the return of land acquired from tribals.
We did that in the 60 days before the model code of conduct kicked in for the Lok Sabha elections.
In urban areas, we’ve delivered on the registration of plots and simplification of land-use change. That has earned us credibility.