Saturday December 7, 2002

9 down, looking at another 6

BHOPAL: " Madhya Pradesh was a laggard state. It was a part of the so- called Bimaru group of northern Indian states. Now it is front- line state in the social sector. Our performance in the literacy, health and education sector has won international recognition," says Chief Minister Digvijay Singh as he enters the last year of his second five-year term.

On the occasion of completing nine years in office, Digvijay Singh concedes that the state has not done well in the energy and road sectors, but also points out that even in these areas, things are looking up. "Barring the newly created Chhattisgarh state, all the other states are facing a deficit in the energy sector. The overall gap between demand and supply is a common feature. We too are working to overcome it, and we hope that by 2005 as soon as the Narmada hydel grid is ready we shall be able to bridge this gap," says Singh.

"Even in the road sector, after we changed our approach and worked out a different strategy our projects are taking shape, and this gap should also be bridged by the next year," he says.

Widely criticised for his observations that development does not make any difference when it comes to winning elections, Singh points out that the need to appreciate the overall scenario cannot be over-stressed." You see development is not just old statistics.

The number of schools you build or the length of road kilometres you construct. In a democracy it has to be seen in the overall empowerment and betterment of the common folk. In that context, mere cold statistics about development does not make any differ- ence to political performance," he says while citing the example of neighbouring Maharashtra when the Shiv Sena BJP alliance lost to a divided Congress in spite of completing road projects worth Rs 8,000 crore.

"In the elections, it is the overall feeling of reassurance that comes from a party and its leadership that the society will be safe during its regime that makes a difference," he says.

Confident that the Congress will win the state for third term when the elections are held in November 2003, Digvijay Singh has taken a vow that he shall not hold any political office if the party does not succeed. "If I cannot deliver the state, then it is reasonable that I should not hold any office for another ten years," he says.

"But then given our performance and the fact that the BJP is badly divided house, we should win very easily," he adds.

Anil Sharma


Copyright 2002 Central Chronicle