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The Rediff Election Interview/Uma Bharti
December 05, 2003
Reporters groaned when Bharatiya Janata Party vice-president Raghunandan Sharma told them yesterday that the party's chief minister-designate, Uma Bharti, would not be holding a press conference. Everyone wanted to hear from the sanyasin who had won a landslide victory in Madhya Pradesh. There was a mad rush for the Lal Brigade ground where she was arriving in a chopper. But mobbed by reporters and ecstatic party workers, she couldn't be heard over the din. She was driven down to the BJP state headquarters in Arera Colony, where another tumultuous welcome awaited here. She spoke briefly to rediff.com Chief Correspondent Tara Shankar Sahay. Excerpts:
Chief Minister Digvijay Singh bit the dust on the twin problems of inadequate power supply and absence of roads in Madhya Pradesh. What do you plan to do about these problems?
Yes, we won on the issue of development, so obviously I will give priority to power generation and building roads. Besides, employment is another priority. The youth of this state need jobs.
How long is it going to take you to fulfil this task?
If you are thinking about miracles, forget it. His [Digvijay Singh's] negligence of the state was monumental, you can say sacrilegious. Therefore, I will need at least three years to solve these problems.
It will take at least a year to provide basic power. I intend to build roads in the next two years and I envisage that in three years' time I will be able to generate employment in our state. I am determined to reinstate daily-wage workers given the boot.
Will your Cabinet will be a lean one?
Let me first take oath [of office]. Only then will I be able to determine the shape of my Cabinet which involves consultations.
To whom does the credit for the BJP's thumping victory in Madhya Pradesh go?
It has been teamwork. The success goes to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's National Democratic Alliance government because of its good work; it goes to [Deputy Prime Minister L K] Advaniji who campaigned tirelessly on our issue of development. Credit is due to all our leaders and activists who spread out in various parts of the state and exposed the Congress administration's criminal negligence. I thank all of them.
Will the fallout of these assembly elections have any impact on the parliamentary polls in 2004?
We fought and won on the issue of development. The Congress lost not only in Madhya Pradesh, but also in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. I think the people of this country have given the thumbs up signal to our government at the Centre as well as in the states.
So naturally the people will remember us and vote for us during the parliamentary polls next year.
How do you perceive the criticism of your avowed Hindutva agenda?
Of course we are not going to stop being Hindus. Hindutva, to repeat, is a way of life and we are comfortable with it. In spite of the Congress propaganda against our party, the people voted for us. They have called the Congress bluff. Our accent is on good governance.
What about the legal suit slapped on you by Digvijay Singh pertaining to allegations of corruption you made against him?
He has gone to court and I will prove that what I said was true.
Are you contemplating any action against Digvijay Singh [for his administrative lapses]?
No, I don't think there is any need for it. He will have to pay for his deeds.
What about Congress assertions that Madhya Pradesh faced power shortage because of shortage of coal?
[Congress chief] Sonia Gandhi said MP faced power shortage only after Chhattisgarh was carved out of it. The Congress used all kinds of ploys to befool the people to hide its failures.
How are you celebrating your party's victory?
I accept the people's verdict with humility and gratitude and repeat my resolve to work for them.