INTERVIEW Chattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh for Teekhi Baat on IBN7.
PC: Such a big incident (naxal attack) happened in the country, Congress blames BJP , BJP leaders blame Congress. Somebody must be involved, Congress or BJP.
RS: It is an act done by naxals to end democracy in this country. The issues which have come forward in the country’s biggest naxal incident, those responsible are the naxals which engage in violence, the way they killed people, stabled a senior leader like Mahendra Karma 70 times, this is in incident done by them. There are questions raised by Congress and BJP, but for the democracy’s biggest fight, that Congress, BJP and the whole nation, all parties should stand. We have to move ahead together, not Chattisgarh, but the whole the country should stand united to fight against these issues.
PC: You said that there has been a mistake from the government’s side.
RS: Such a big incident happened, somewhere on some issues, there may have been a mistake. If there is talk of judicial enquiry, I want to know who is responsible at what level.
PC: Congress made allegations, BJP leader Ananth Kumar said that Ajit Jogi role is in doubt. One is making allegations against the other, won’t this affect enquiry?
RS: The enquiry encompasses all aspects, how the incident happened, the lapses, what the police and administration should have done.
PC: Many enquiries are held, on various comm
RS: But facts will come out of an enquiry
PC: Enquiry happened when 70 CRPF staff was killed, who was punished.
RS: What were the problems in security, their movement, their station places, these things are identified, and after that incident there was no incident involving CRPF.
PC: seven eight people were killed some months ago.
RS: There were training lapses. They had training in jungle warfare, which we reviewed. Now they are being giving more information, because these people come from the ground and are pushed into the jungle.
PC: Congressmen say a whole convoy goes with the Chief Minister, a whole lot of people go with him, but when their leader goes there are no people.
RS: In that area even I take safety measures, there are gatherings, but instead of taking 50 vehicles on road, I got by helicopter, because I don’t want to too many people’s lives at risk by taking the road route in Bastar. Because If I do a 100 km yatra, and there is a bomb blast, then along with me, there are 100 others people, including police and other staff. We had made efforts to see that in difficult areas, we go by helicopter for programmes and go via road to other places.
PC: You mean there is a fault in Congress’s strategy, like when chief minister is taking helicopter, why did they Congress leaders go in a convoy.
RS: Big Congress leaders also go by helicopter. But some leaders for this program took Sukma ghat route which is difficult terrain.
PC: You mean they should not have gone, or you would not have undertaken such a journey.
RS: The government cannot stop a yatra.
PC: But when they informed the government about the yatra, the administration did not deploy police.
RS: All VIP protection was given.
PC: You accepted mistake, there are chief minister which don’t accept, hence moral responsibility is yours, when Congressmen say you have to be dismissed or you should resign, why don’t you agree?
RS: The enquiry will tell who can be held guilty; the enquiry is done by a High Court Judge
PC: But it is your moral responsibility
RS: It is the government’s responsibility, but the government also has the responsibility to find out mistake and take corrective action.
PC: Congress is demanding your resignation
RS: It is an odd thing to demand by Congress, sometimes they say the state should be under President’s rule. If governments keep on changing due to naxal violence, then for how many days governments would run in India? And you talk of strengthening democracy, you cannot dissololve panchayat, if you dissolve an elected government after such incidents, you will end up strengthening terrorists and naxal movement.
PC: You feel it is political, you cannot even think about resigning
RS: There is no question because thousand and lakhs have struggled for nine and a half years to strengthen democracy; and if on such issues talks of resignation and President’s rule will happen, and then I don’t think how we will make ourselves strong, be it any political party.
PC: I have been in journalism for 40 years, 1000 of enquiries are held, there is no action.
RS: If you want to bring all facts forward, should I ask SP or DIG to investigate? I and the country have only this option, to have people other than politicians, who are away form BJP, Congress and incumbents, hence we requested the Hon. Court to have a sitting judge to enquire.
PC: It is also a political question, because naxals are a threat to democracy, you consider them terrorists, some Congressmen did not consider them terrorists before, now Jairam Ramesh says it is terrorism, home minister also said.
RS: Home Minister said that after the Chattisgarh incident, his thought process has also changed, it is 100 per cent terrorist activity, the country and state have contest it strongly. He said that he used to think these are ‘different’ kind of andolan, but after the Chattisgarh and some other incidents, his illusion regarding such movements is a thing of the past. These are powers which want to weaken the state.
PC: Don’t you feel that there is a political conspiracy behind this, home minister hinted, Ananth Kumar said something to that effect, do you agree?
RS: When political conspiracy is talked about, then it also is an issue. I will not blame anybody today by naming, but it is an issue which needs to be investigated.
PC: Do you think it could be somebody from the Congress; somebody could be hand in glove
RS: What could be from where, all these things we don’t know.
PC: Because it came out in reports that at Congress MLA were let off during the attack
RS: Home Minister said that if some issue like this crops you, it will be within in ambit of investigation.
PC: It was said that you were informed regarding the route change
RS: On 22nd, there was no Darbha visit, on 25th Darbha was added, till then it was only Sukma, am not saying all these issues, it is the media which is saying them, then if these changes have happened, these are references,
PC: You party leader Ananth Kumar made a statement, do you agree with him
RS: All these things would be kept before the enquiry committee, hence there is no need for me to agree or not agree on something today.
PC: Will you raise the issue why the route was changes, why some people did not join the rally
RS: Party will put forth
PC:Did the government keep it before the committee in the terms of reference
RS: The government has openly kept all facts before the committee
PC: Which means Congressmen will also be investigated
RS: Congress, BJP, others and all administration were be in the ambit of investigation
PC: Even BJP karyakartas are involved
RS: If anybody keeps any facts before me, regarding any issue, then I will keep it in the ambit of investigation
PC: You don’t agree with Ananth Kumar
RS: Ananth Kumar has put forth his point
PC: You are the chief minister, you would have information inputs from CID, intelligence,
RS: Am content with the investigation going on
PC: What he (Ananth Kumar) said would be brought by you in the ambit of enquiry
RS: All information will be collected.
PC: But you are not ready to agree that it could be a political conspiracy
RS: It could be politics
PC: Because Karma was fighting against the naxals, like you.
RS: All facts would come out
PC: You cannot rule out political conspiracy
RS: If any such thing comes forth
PC: But you haven’t ruled out that
RS: We are not denying anything today
PC: You took our vikaas (development) yatra from nine years, parameters too say there is development, but if development was happening, why ‘vinaash’ (destruction) would happen?
RS: This is the issue I wanted to say, that naxals are scared of development, they fear that political people who go to Bastar and organize rally of 20,30,40 thousand people, all political parties are engaging in political activity there, naxals don’t like that all political parties are working there actively. And this reaction is anti development, understand that these naxals oppose any democratic activity of India, from panchayat to vidhan sabha to lok sabha, they are against rallies and sabhas.
PC: They don’t want to take part in electoral process
RS: They say power is acquired by the bullet of gun.
PC: You say they are terrorists
RS: It is their ideology, thinking, which is wrong, against democracy, against India’s constitution. This incident is a reaction telling that if you undertake such activity in our territory, then this is how we will take revenge. Be it BJP, government programmes, Congress, CPI, CPM, they want to tell them by their actions that they are against democratic movement.
PC: Congress levels charge that since you have assumed power only Congress men and police have died, since you have some connections with naxals. They don’t attack BJP people.
RS: I want to tell the public that there is lack of information on this issue, the maximum number of attacks have happened on BJP workers. 80 to 90 of our senior party workers including sarpanch, leaders have been killed, recently my district vice president was working in Dantewada, he was shot at, bullets were fired outside our MP’s Baliram house when he was there with his son, my parliamentary secretary life was saved by a time of one second in a blast. Maximum martyrs are from our party, and in nine and a half years, we are combating it will full strength. Be it our MP Balirm they have struggled against naxalism. Mahendra Karma’s had an important role, and I will not say BJP or Congress, but people’s representatives have been attacked, but the most number of people attacked are from BJP, we are their target number one, they had caused as much damage as they could, I don’t want to count. But the incident of attack on Karma was big,
PC: The leadership was wiped out the state president, Karma saab was killed
RS : …Karmaji was killed and this is a causing problem to the state, national and me because Karmaji has been at a the forefront of fighting against this movement along with me. The incident has caused loss to the state of Chattisgarh, our democratic process, this is a big incident.
PC: Hence the Prime Minister, Soniaji, Rahul Gandhi came.
RS: All came
PC: But Rahul Gandhi attacked you politically that you have been unsuccessful
RS: I told them that you party people have become martyrs, we respect them, but don’t forget that in the past nine and a half years, the most amount grief and problems, we have suffered. And we are in sorrow due to this incident, this is not only your sorrow, in such issues, we don’t see who is BJP or who is Congress party worker. CRPF, police jawans, common people of Bastar, are involved in this fight. Bastar, state and the country are agaisnt naxsals, but some people due stand by them due to terror and fear,
PC : Villagers have not see any development and are with naxals because they have no clothes to wear, water to drink or food to eat. But people say since mining activity has started under your regime, corporate has been given a lot of importance, they pay naxalites and hence there is no attack on them.
RS: You and country have a wrong notion, the mining in Bastar, is not done by any private entity by by the national mineral development corporation, which has been mining for the past 12,20,25 years, iron ore is mined, 95 per cent of mining is done by the government of PSU, some 50-100 acres mines may be with some small private companies, there has been no incident there, employment has increased and Bhilai steel plant is getting iron ore. A three million tonne plant is being set up in that area in joint venture with the government of India.
PC: You will face elections in some time, now you will be impacted due to the attack as people will feel that the government is weak as it cannot save its own people. The question is if YSR Reddy could finish naxalism, then why not Dr. Raman Singh.
RS: We will do it
PC: You didn’t do it in nine and a half year, how will you do it now
RS: Go into a background, naxalism is happening here since the past 40 years,
PC: Even in Andhra it was there, Orissa and Bihar too
RS: In Andhra, they rain a campaign for fifteen years, greyhound was established. There is a difference between the boundaries of Chattisgarh and Andhra, Bastar is spread across 40,000 square kilometre, bigger than Kerala, and there are seven districts on the interstate border, a stretch of 100-150 kilometers which has no police stations, basic infrastructure was so poor in Chattisgarh after becoming a state, we went in to direction of developing the same. From 2010 to 2013, casualties, blasts have decreased, there has been a 30 to 40 per cenr decrease, that is why Naxalites are not happy, because development is happening in Bastar, PDS system has reached the last village, electricity has reached the last village, employment guarantee schemes are being run, skill upgradation college has been started, it has becoming education hub, 150 students have gone in all India competitive exams, they are being selected in AIEE and IIT, Bastar is standing up which is causing problems to naxals, which they want to attack. On the one hand, people are standing up for development, they feel they are losing due to this,
PC: Are you getting full support from the central government
RS: Today I told the home minister the same thing, don’t count whether 10 or 20 battalions are needed, make integrated action plan
PC: In the past nine years, did you get money, infrastructure required by integrated plan
RS: We get help, but every time I tell Prime Minister, home minister, when Chidambaram was there, a long term strategy was decided by central and state government to combat naxalism, after which the speed of actions increased, hence I say a plan once decided should be acted upon.
PC: Chidambaram used to take more interest
RS: He had very clear think on the issue of Naxalism
PC: Which means you had better understanding with him
RS: Understanding with him also will get better
PC: Till now it is not, its been one year
RS: Today he took a tough stand and spoke, and gave a message to the country
PC: You feel Chidambaram was active of the two
RS: Chidambaram did a lot of study on the naxal issue.
PC: You don’t find incumbent as committed
RS: He is committed, he will push for things
PC: Did the NIA enquiry happen after asking you
RS: There is no consent of state government needed for NIA enquiry.
PC: Tomorrow they will say your people were responsible
RS: Government of India home department does this, it can do it, they do not need any written permission for conducting an enquiry.
PC: You were not asked
RS: We had spoken I said it is the right of the central government
PC: Did they speak to your before appointed
RS: I was told they will order enquiry, I told them that it their authority
PC: If their report blames your government
RS: As soon as they told me I said that keeping in mind the seriousness of the issue, we have appointed a High Court judge, spoken to the Hon Chief Justice and he recommended a name, we said that if you want better enquiry, we had included terms of reference, and if you want add to it, more terms of reference can be included,
PC: But if two reports with different results come out, which one will you believe
RS: NIA can investigate
PC: But they can file FIR and arrest too
PC: If they nab any of your party worker or officer, what will you do then?
RS: How will they catch anybody who have committed no crime
PC: They will conduct enquiry, like they have earlier nabbed many other people
RS: They told me that they will need the state government’s help in investigation, we said we will
PC: Which report would you believe
Rs: The judicial enquiry has full range. It is for the country and Chattisgarh
PC: Hence you will give greater importance to judicial enquiry
PC: And if there is a conflict in both enquiries
RS: There will be no conflict
PC: Will this affect elections, what will be your slogan
RS: A big incident has happened, but the people of Chattisgarh know how fast we have fought against naxalism in the past nine and a half years. And the people of Chattisgarh believe that without fear and bowing down only BJP government can fight against naxalism
PC: Hence your slogan is that you should be brought to power to fight against naxalism
RS: We will say how far we have reached in the past nine and a half years, and in the coming five years, will be of peace and development. On the issue of peace and development people of Chattisgarh will certainly support us
PC: You have called Prime Ministerial candidate earlier, will your call Modi saab again for campaigning
RS: I will welcome everybody, Shivrajji will come ,Narendraji will come, Arunji, Sushmaji, Rajnathji, they are my seniors
PC: Modi is senior to you, or you are senior to Modi
RS: He has won three times consecutively, it is a hatrick. His tenure is more than mine
PC: As a chief minister his tenure is more, but as a party worker
RS: He was my general secretary (organisation), when I was working in the state, he has been my state prabhari (in charge), and he is senior,
PC: You consider Modiji senior
RS: I will invite everybody, even Modiji
PC: He has seniority; hence he can become Prime Minister
RS: That is not my area, not my thinking, till now am not even in the body that decides the Prime Minister,
PC: Do you think the PM candidate should be decided before elections, will you derive benefit out of that
RS: It is not a BJP issue alone ,is the question of NDA,
PC: Will you benefit in elections if Modiji is made PM candidate
RS: Vidhan Sabha issue is Vidhan Sabha issue.
PC: No difference is made due to PM candidate