Raipur: Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel-led Congress government in Chhattisgarh has proved to be a complete failure on several fronts in the last one and a half years, but the BJP has not been able to take advantage of this, the party’s new state president Vishnu Deo Sai has said.
In an interview to ThePrint after his appointment, the former Union minister said BJP could not convey the failures of the government to the public. But the party will reach out to the people once the lockdown is lifted and organise a big campaign to highlight the Congress government’s failures.
“The Bhupesh Baghel government could not fulfill even one of the many populist promises made by his party… The Baghel government has completely failed on all fronts, be it prohibition, loan waiver of farmers, ensuring fair price to buy paddy or giving unemployment allowance to the youth,” he said.
After the serious drubbing in the 2018 assembly elections, the BJP made a comeback in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, but the short-lived advantage was wiped out in the elections for the panchayats and urban bodies due to poor electoral management, he said, adding that he will address this soon.
“After lifting of the corona lockdown, BJP workers will hit the streets and launch a big agitation against it,” said Sai, who is starting his third stint as the Chhattisgarh BJP president.
His first term was from 2006 to 2010, during which he led the party to victories in the 2008 assembly elections and the 2009 Lok Sabha polls. The second term lasted eight months in 2014.
Sai also spoke about factionalism in the state unit, saying he will accommodate everyone for a smooth operation. He also said he wants to form his new party executive as soon as possible.
On factionalism challenge, and Saudan Singh
Asked about his plans to stop the growing factionalism in Chhattisgarh BJP, Vishnu Deo Sai didn’t directly admit to any issue in the organisation even as he hinted at it. But he quickly pointed out that the workers, on whose strength the party operates, are more important than any leader.
“I will run the party under guidance of our bigger leaders (in the state). All these leaders, whether it is Dr Raman Singh or Brijmohan Agrawal or Saroj Pandey or Ramvichar Netam, are my seniors. I will try to work by accommodating everyone. I have done it before in the past and I will continue to do it in the future too. I know that all my seniors will support me,” he said.
“There is only one faction in the party and that is the lotus (party symbol) group. All of this keeps taking place in the family. But the party’s workers remain united and we will move forward with their help… Other issues will also be sorted out,” he added.
Sai also spoke about the continued importance of BJP national general secretary and ex-Chhattisgarh in-charge Saudan Singh in the state unit.
“He is our guide and mentor and his opinion will always be important for us. Saudan Singh is our senior leader and his cooperation remains essential for all the state presidents. I am sure that just like in the past, I will continue to get complete support from Saudan Singh as well as BJP’s in-charge of the state Anil Mittal, in the future too,” he said.
Singh enjoys considerable heft in the state-level politics of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. State leaders say during the 15-year reign of former CM Raman Singh, Saudan was a dominant figure, serving as a medium to provide “special benefits” to leaders and civil servants.
On party executive
Vishnu Deo Sai also wants to quickly form his state executive as it will enable him to open a solid front against the state government.
“The sooner the party executive is formed, the better it will be. Although no fixed time frame can be defined, still it will be done as soon as possible. Selection of personnel for appointment to key posts in the organisation will be done in accordance with the regional and caste based equations,” he said.
“Consultation will also be sought from senior party leaders. Apart from this, many district presidents have to be appointed and this too will be done soon,” he added.
Sources in the BJP, however, said Sai’s real aim behind quickly forming the executive is to obtain complete command over the organisation as he wants to appoint his own supporters to key posts.
Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it
India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.
But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.
ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.