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Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan. Photo: Hindustan Times (Hindustan Times)
Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan. Photo: Hindustan Times
(Hindustan Times)

Prefer to focus on achievements: Shivraj Singh Chauhan

The Madhya Pradesh chief minister says development everywhere is and should be context-sensitive

New Delhi: Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi has become the face of the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), riding on the state’s economic success, and will spearhead the party’s campaign for the 2014 general election. His comparatively low-profile Madhya Pradesh counterpart Shivraj Singh Chauhan, also of the BJP, has been following a different development model. “Development everywhere is and should be context-sensitive," Chouhan said in a recent interview. “I am more interested in achievements than in getting noticed." Madhya Pradesh won the award for being the most competitive state in the category of change-over economies (states that have a per capita gross domestic product of $400-525), based on the State Competitiveness Report, a joint effort by Mint and the Institute of Competitiveness, India. Edited excerpts from the interview:

What’s your first impression on getting this award?

I always think that what you do depends on a number of external factors. We are all inspired by a noble cause. I devote myself to the service of humanity and people. I have envisioned Madhya Pradesh as a prosperous state. In due course, many good things happen, which are appreciated. Awards boost our confidence. They encourage us to do even better. I take awards as an inspiring popular response.

You will be fighting for a third term this year. How will you counter anti-incumbency?

Elections are a democratic process. People elect you because of your good work. Individual preferences do not make much difference. One cannot appease everyone so anti-incumbency remains a factor in every election. I do not think anti-incumbency will be an impediment in a third-time victory.

What is the strategy that the BJP will adopt for elections in Madhya Pradesh?

Very simple. We will simply ask the people to vote for the good work we have done. It is a fact that Madhya Pradesh has experienced remarkable growth in every sector. We have been commended by our opponents for pro-poor governance. We are going to ask people to come forward and campaign for us. The disturbing memories of Congress misrule are still fresh, so it is the BJP’s good governance versus Congress misrule.

Are you happy with the results of the various initiatives taken by you in your first term?

I am more than satisfied as what we did was based on people’s aspirations and the popular wish.

There is a lot of hype about the Gujarat model of development. Do you think that the achievements of states such as Madhya Pradesh are going unnoticed?

The development in Gujarat is for all to see. Kindly do not underrate it by terming it as hype. It is injustice not only to the dynamic leadership provided by Narendra Modiji, but also to the industrious people of Gujarat. At the same time, I do not want to get trapped into the media strategy, which intends to pitch one BJP state against another. Development everywhere is and should be context-sensitive. I am more interested in achievements than in getting noticed.

There is criticism that the development models adopted by many states don’t create enough jobs. Have you taken this factor into account while formulating your policies?

It is not so. Every state is conscious of the ills of jobless growth. We have taken care of this. We desire every youth to start self-employment. Vocational education and skill development, self-employment are areas of great concern we are focusing on. Besides, (we have introduced) many policy initiatives like 50% jobs to local youth in industry, enrolment of youth in skill development, introducing industry-specific trades in polytechnics and industrial investment. We have launched specific schemes to encourage rural youth to take up economic activities. Requisite support like giving loan grants, sharing payment of interest on loans have been extended.

What is the state’s record on job creation? Have you been able to arrest large-scale migration?

We are creating job opportunities on a larger scale. Government jobs have been opened in lakhs. Self-help groups have been given industry and bank linkages. Thus, job-oriented growth continues. Since jobs are available in rural areas, the process of migration has been slowed.

As per conservative estimates, at least 21,400 children die of malnutrition in Madhya Pradesh annually. Why has the state machinery not been able to address the problem in the past few years? What are the measures taken by the state government to tackle this issue ?

It is not true. We have focused on addressing malnourishment. The Atal Bihari Child Health and Nutrition Mission under its multidimensional activities is addressing the malnourishment issue among children. The issue of malnourishment has also been addressed by ensuring food security in the areas which often report a malnourishment problem. Neo-natal care units have been set up in all district hospitals where health of the newborn is constantly monitored. Supplementary food is being provided in anganwadis (day-care centres). In addition, community participation is also being enlisted.

Remya Nair and Vidya Krishnan contributed to this story.

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