“My Dream And Resolution Is That Rajasthan Comes Top In The List Of Developed States” — Ashok Gehlot, CM, Rajasthan
Four decades of public life and steering himself through the party ladder to head the Rajasthan government, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot is all set to play a new inning in the state. These days he is busy in the Congress Sandesh Yatra, focusing on reaching out to the masses. Despite his busy schedule, he took out time to talk to Uday India representative Gulab Batra. Excerpts:
How do you view Congress Sandesh Yatra?
Congress Party’s Sandesh Yatra is very successful and is being held in different stages. The state government’s various welfare schemes and flagship programmes are being communicated to people through this Yatra so that these programmes can benefit as many people as possible.
What are the differences between the BJP and the Congress in communicating their messages through their Suraj Sankalp and Sandesh Yatra respectively? What are the strategies behind the Congress taking its Sandesh Yatra to every constituency?
In political terms, the BJP through its Suraj Yatra is trying to defame Rajasthan, and accusing the government without any substantial proof. For example, in the BJP’s rally, it was announced that during its rule, it had provided jobs to ten lakh people. However, the fact is that the total number of government employees is seven and a half lakh. Hence, they are making baseless accusations against the government.
We are responding to such accusations in our meetings during the Sandesh Yatra. The Opposition party doesn’t have any policy or programme; it is simply lying and making false promises and creating a communal environment to come to power. Last time, the BJP state president Vashundhra Raje made false promises during her Parivartan Yatra. The BJP does not have any work, except announcing rallies, every now and then.
Starting from the Rajasthan Day, 30 March this year, the Congress’s Sandesh Yatra will go to every 200 constituencies. The State Congress Committee is finalising its programme, which may be altered due to unforeseen circumstances. The Yatra was postponed due to the Uttarakhand disaster. Now, the second stage is in progress. The coordination between the government and our organisation is good in the state and so along with the Yatra, administrative functions are conducted along with other welfare programmes. The Party chairperson and the president of National Advisory Council, Sonia Gandhi has inaugurated two important schemes. In addition to these schemes, the state government has introduced several programmes. From first of July, along with free medicines, free check-up camps have been started in community health centers. From 15 August , free check-ups will start in primary health centres.
What is your opinion on the budget policy, expenditure and efficacy of the structure of five year and annual plans?
There was a time when Rajasthan’s annual budget was rupees four thousand crores. We have increased the budget to more than 40 thousand crores. We have done more than what was decided in the structure of 11th Five Year Plan. For the 12th Five Year Plan, we have increased the amount to 1.92 thousand crores. These were made possible only because we have, along with better economic management, schemes for the development of state. Keeping in mind social security, health, education and four-fold development of state, we are applying various public welfare programmes and schemes.
Along with these, we have found huge deposits of minerals in the state. Around 40 per cent of the Delhi-Mumbai freight corridor will be going through Rajasthan, which will boost our industrial development. We have found iron ore in Bhilwada and Karauli districts. Again, we have found potash deposits in Hanumangarh. Rajasthan is the only state with potash deposits. Tapping these deposits will help in fertiliser manufacture and also save
foreign currency, as we are still importing potash.
How would your experiences in the present tenure in power be different from the last tenure?
The experiences gathered in the first term has obviously benefitted us during the second term. Due to this, we havetried to provide good governance and it can be said that we made and kept promises of a transparent and accountable government.
In the last tenure, you had 3/4th majority and this time you have a coalition government. Why do you think that your coalition government is more effective than the last one?
Despite lack of pure mandate to theCongress party and being in a coalition government, for the all-round development of the state, we, with the support of six BSP MLAs and Independents, have endeavored to give good governance. This is clear that the experience we have gathered in this government has helped us in implementing welfare programmes, which not only benefitted the poor but state as a whole.
What would you say about the comparison between your two tenures as head of the government?
During this tenure, we have achieved record-breaking achievements in different areas, which have been lauded at the national level. We have focused on the permanent programmes and earned deposits for the state, which will benefit in the future. Through Congress Sandesh Yatra, we are showcasing these achievements.
Despite the Congress high command having faith in you, help from the Central government and the party, what are the practical difficulties you are facing in getting special status for the state and how will you solve them?
The demand for special status to a state, which is the biggest state in the country with difficult geographic conditions, is not new. It has been demanded for decades. The criteria of the Planning Commission for giving special status to a state are so inordinate hat getting a special status is not an easy task. The Planning commission has advised us to demand for special package instead of special status. Everybody knows that Rajasthan is dealing with the problem of drinking water, so we have demanded a special package in this regard from the Planning Commission. We have to seriously think about the problem of drinking water and conserving it for the next generation. In the last tenure, we had called for, save electricity, water and educate everybody, in this tenure we have also focused on planting trees and saving daughters along with others issues, so that people can think over these points.
In the next assembly election, what is your opinion on the candidate selection, ticket distribution, publicity campaign, election strategies and your own role in it?
As far as ticket distribution for Rajasthan assembly elections is concerned, this is for the Congress high command to decide. The high command has deputed acting general secretaries for the elections. In this process, many election committees and screening committees are to be set up. At different levels, supervisors are gathering feedback from the party workers and submitting their reports. The main objective of these processes is to field only those candidates who can win and can bring Congresstp power again.
The important thing is that this time the party’s reins are in the hands of Rahul Gandhi’s . At the start of this year, he was made party vice president during the Congress ChintanShivir in Jaipur. He is being seen as a role model for the youth of the country. On his directions, women and youth will be given preference this time.
Which party do you consider to be the strongest contender, and how will you face it?
In Rajasthan, the Congress and BJP are the two main political parties. The third front is not an issue here.
Do you think that the Congress will come to power and on what basis?
People of Rajasthan know theCongress party very well. We have fulfilled all our promises and always strived for the development of the state. People will obviously vote for us. The environment created through Sandesh Yatra will also help us in coming back to power.
What are your dreams about Rajasthan?
My dreams and resolutions are that Rajasthan comes top in the list of developed states in India. Sarvodaya is our aim and we will work as hard as we can to fulfill this dream.