Monday, May 24, 2010

Interview with Raman Singh, CM, Chattisgarh

(Aajtak, May 23, 2010)

Q. You were identified with development, but for the last few months a lot of bloodbath is taking place in Chhattisgarh and now this is the only point left for talking to you.
A. Since 1970s we have been campaigning against the Naxals. Such big incidents take place when their strongholds are targeted. Now out of despair, they are targeting common people.

Q. The Naxal activities have been on the rise in the last two months. If the people are with you, how are they successfully launching attacks? Do you suspect some mole somewhere?
A. The people are with us and that is why we got elected. But some people are made to go along with them out of terror and fright. Almost 98 per cent people of Bastar are with us. We have launched very successful campaigns against the Naxals in the last six months and now they are reacting. The incidents of past two months took place because of this only. We need to work out a good strategy and achieve success in the coming days.

Q. Seems like your intelligence and government are losing grip somehow.
A. Information network certainly requires to be strengthened. The more information we will have, the better will be our performance. Previously they were waging guerrilla war and now are resorting to mobile war. When we put pressure on them, they flee to other states. The objective of their attacks is to demoralise the police, public and the state. But the way we are moving ahead, we will be in a better position. In the last two years also we have performed better.

Q. Andhra Pradesh has pushed the Naxals towards your state. They had prepared a system. Why could not you develop any system in the last six to seven years?
A. I had a very thin police force. Around 54 police personnel are required for an area of 100 sq km and I had only 17. The police posts are sparsely located. Where there were police stations, there was no wall, no seating arrangement. Between 2003 and 2010, we have inducted 22,000 personnel into the police force. We have set up the Guerrilla Warfare College in Kanker along with several police stations and police posts across the state. The budget for policing has been increased from Rs 270 crore to Rs 1,100-1,200 crore. The new force which is being raised is fully prepared to take the guerrilla war.

Q. Sometimes the Centre and the state seem united and sometimes it seems that you people are more interested in taking on each other than fighting the Naxals.
A. Eight states and 160 districts are infested with Naxal violence. On pressure from one side, they move to the other side. The Central and the state governments will have to work together on an assorted work plan, leaving no space for the Naxals to flee and hide. The experts should put up a plan; there should be a long-term strategy and we should work on that. That is the only way to success.

Q. What are the fallacies of the Home Ministry policy towards your state? What could they have possibly done, but have not done? Your party is attacking Home Minister P. Chidambaram.
A. On this issue, there are no differences with Chidambaram or with the prime minister. What we have told the Centre is that you help us prepare to work according to the strategy. Neither Raman Singh nor his party disagrees with the line taken by the home minister.

Q. Why the BJP is attacking the home minister? What does it expect him to do?
A. The BJP is simply saying that it is improper for different people in the Congress to speak in different voices. The strategy must be clear and must come to the fore of the country. I have had one-and-a-half years of experience of working with the home minister. He is taking along all the states and working according to a planned strategy with better coordination. I have no complaints against him.

Q. But Digvijay Singh repeatedly challenges you for a debate.
A. If he has some formula, then why doesn’t he go to the prime minister or home minister and tell them? If he has some suggestions to make, he should not put it in the media but should offer them to the prime minister and the home minister. Aren’t they listening to him? I am not against talking to Naxals, but it is possible only when they drop the gun and talk of ballet. I am always prepared for debates, but this is not an issue of debate. It is an issue of democracy and if he has any suggestion, he should put it forward.

Q. Why are your good deeds not highlighted? There are repeated charges against you that you have links with the mining lobbies?
A. A continuous charge against us in Delhi is that we are campaigning against the Naxals to let the multi-national corporations enter Bastar. I want to make it clear that no multi-national corporation is mining in Bastar. Entire mining is being done by the public sector companies only.

Q. So, Bastar was excluded from your model of development thereby allowing the Naxals to get an upper hand.
A. My grievance is that the Naxals, who destroy the roads, hinder the development, blow bridges, demolish schools and hospitals, are compelling Bastar to live in the 18th century.

Q. What is the solution: bullet or negotiations?
A. The police force should be allowed to work effectively and the doors for negotiations should be kept open.


Q. People say that the home minister has been a failure in tackling the Naxal menace. Should he resign?
A. Resignation is not the solution of the problem.

Q. Had you been the prime minister or the home minister, how you would have dealt with the problem?
A. I would have established better coordination among the state governments and would have worked swifter on the advice of security experts.

Q. How much time will it take to solve the Naxal menace?
A. The country is facing this for the last 40 years. If we work according to a plan in a better way, we can get good results in five to 10 years.

Q. Don’t you or your family fear for safety?
A. We too face the danger. But we carry the faith of 2.1 crore people of Chhattisgarh along with us. This is the source of our strength.

Q. What do you aspire for?
A. I want Chhattisgarh to be the first among the most developed states of the country.

Q. Are you too a claimant for the prime ministership from your party?
A. I have never been a claimant for any post. Whatever responsibility the organisation will entrust with me, I will be totally prepared for that.

No comments: