People have hopes from Congress: Chhattisgarh CM

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, who is credited with single-handedly leading the Congress to a stunning victory in BJP’s bastion of Chhattisgarh, claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s regime was a “big let-down” for people who have now great expectations from the Congress.

The Congress would throw up a surprise results in April-May parliamentary polls across the country, he said.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi has failed to deliver, he failed to keep his prime poll promises such as providing employment, weeding out black money and dealing with farm distress. His entire regime was a big let-down,” the 57-year-old Baghel told IANS in an interview.

“The Congress handed a humiliating defeat to the BJP in the November assembly polls in Chhattisgarh, where it was in power for 15 years. Now the saffron party will meet the same fate in parliamentary polls in my state as well as at the national level.”

Baghel said the BJP, which had been winning 10 out of the state’s total 11 seats in past two general elections, would not even open its account in the mineral-rich state this time.

“Congress was written off in the Assembly polls in November… everybody was saying the BJP would be surely winning for the fourth time but then the results came as a shocker for political pundits as Congress walked away with record 68 seats (in the 90-member house). I believe the parliamentary polls will produce similar results in Chhattisgarh and elsewhere in the country,” he said.

Baghel, who belongs to the OBC community which makes up half of the state’s over 2.55 crore population, also described Congress President Rahul Gandhi “an immensely talented person who is perfectly able to lead the country as the next Prime Minister”.

Swept to power on the promises of farm loan waivers and imposing total prohibition in the state, where excise collections contribute heavily to state’s GDP, he reiterated his commitment of strongly dealing with agrarian distress, which he described as “a legacy of 15-year-long misrule of corrupt BJP regime led by Dr Raman Singh”.

“I waived Rs 6,100 crore farm loan within hours of taking oath as Chief Minister on December 17, 2018, the minimum support price on per quintal paddy procurement has been raised to a record Rs 2,500 and I will definitely go for total prohibition in the state but only after taking people into confidence,” he said.

He strongly rejected accusations that his Congress government would go “soft” on the Maoists and slow down offensives against them.

“This is entirely untrue, troopers will carry on anti-Naxal (Maoist) drive vigorously but I will not allow anyone to harass innocent civilians in name of Naxal operations. Chhattisgarh government will strive to win confidence of people in Naxal-hit areas,” Baghel said.

He said his government was committed to the welfare of tribals in the conflict zone and that the state government listens to them.