BJP national vice-president and former Chhattisgarh chief minister Dr Raman Singh, 66, believes that ‘patriotism and development’ should be at the heart of national political life. Speaking to Ejaz Kaiser, he said the Modi factor, combined with the decision to replace all sitting BJP MPs in the state and the air strike after Pulwama will work wonders for the party. An Ayurvedic doctor-turned-politician, Singh hopes the Assembly poll debacle will not be a factor for the BJP. Excerpts:
After BJP’s shocking defeat in Chhattisgarh in Assembly polls, how do you read the current flow of politics?
Politics does offer unpredictability and challenging moments even as it promises possibilities. If politics offers opportunities to work for masses and country, then every politician is sure to be put in the box office to be fully scrutinized and tested, once in a while. It’s nothing unnatural.
Your party will be facing elections for the first time in 15 years without being in power in Chhattisgarh. Is it a challenge?
Don’t think so. We got mandate for three terms and we practiced good governance. Now people have assigned us a different responsibility. We will work as an effective opposition to ensure Chhattisgarh continues to move ahead on a higher growth trajectory.
Was it anxiety over the Assembly results that led the BJP to axe all sitting MPs in the state?
The party’s strategy had been deliberated upon for some time. Anti-incumbency factor did work against us during the Assembly polls. So, the party decided that others should be given an opportunity to secure better results. This is an experiment that will put the party in a better position.
Would issues like nationalism, aerial strikes post-Pulwama benefit the BJP?
A positive message has gone out. The BJP will surely gain in the upcoming polls owing to its firm and decisive action keeping national interest in mind. Terrorism remains the key issue to be counteracted.
Will the slogan ‘Main Bhi Chowkidar’ work?
Judge it from the spirit and rationale espoused by our PM. It inculcates the feeling of patriotism, responsibility and accountability towards ensuring the security of the country. A common man is inspired by the PM donning the chowkidar’s cap.
Will the Modi-Raman factor work in the state?
There is a strong national sentiment to make Modiji the prime minister again. The elections will be contested on his widely acceptable image and his achievements. We will execute our assigned role in the state— telling the people about the works carried out during the previous 15 years of BJP rule.
How do you assess the new Bhupesh Baghel government?
Within a short span of time, Chhattisgarh has witnessed fiscal mismanagement. It raises worry over imbalances and threat to Chhattisgarh’s economic stability under the Bhupesh government... Bhupesh is taking the state backward with unfulfilled promises.