“This is the first time that central ministers plot to overthrow state governments – Karnataka, MP …”: Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot
As Ashok Gehlot completes three years in his third term as Chief Minister of Rajasthan, he speaks to The Indian Express about the challenges so far, what lies ahead and why he thinks Rajasthan will finally break a three-decade tradition of not re-electing a government.
What are some expensive programs that you think will help you get re-elected in 2023?
Our government has worked for every section of society and posted the details of every beneficiary online. Our government has waived nearly Rs 15,000 crore in agricultural loans; provided an additional subsidy of Rs 1000 on farmers’ electricity bills, which led to zero bills for about 3 lakhs of farmers; received free treatment up to Rs 5 lakh via Chiranjeevi Swasthya Bima Yojana; and during Covid, everything is free, from tests to treatment. Public medical colleges are opened in 30 districts, 123 new colleges have been opened including 32 women colleges, we have given 1 lakh of government jobs while about 80,000 are in preparation, rules are in development for contract workers, 88 lakh people receive a social security pension, roads are built in every Vidhan Sabha, complainants are heard in police stations, and industrial zones are opened in every block.
This is just a snapshot. People have approved of our work time and time again. That’s why we won big in six of the assembly’s eight polls, as well as in the polls of local urban organizations and the panchayati raj.
The BJP has nothing to show for its previous governments or the Modi government. Therefore, they engage in hate politics across the land, in the name of caste, religion, class, and language. We have always asked for votes on development. Now the public has sworn they will vote on behalf of development… Even after three years there is no anti-incumbent… The BJP has not been able to promote enmity due to the rigor of our government and instead their leaders are fighting each other. .
The kind of Corona management that we did, there was no dissatisfaction, as seen in other states… This time the public will be breaking a tradition since 1993 and voting again in Congress.
What will the government’s direction be over the next two years?
Health and social security have always been our government’s priority. Therefore, we didn’t let anyone go without treatment during Covid, and we didn’t let anyone go hungry. Our government has granted financial assistance of Rs 5,500 to 33 lakh families. We also provided dry rations and meals for Rs 8 via Indira Rasoi. Our state has immense investment opportunities and we are organizing an “Invest Rajasthan” summit in January. The well-being of farmers, empowering women, improving public service delivery, the right to health bill, providing opportunities for young people, will be our priority.
The bill on the “right to health” has been in preparation for a long time. Likewise, the law on liability. The final draft would be ready, but objections were raised by some bureaucrats.
The right to health is our priority.
And to correct the accountability, our government, during the previous mandate, adopted the Act respecting guaranteed public service benefits and the Act respecting the right to be heard. We are working to strengthen these two laws and examine the need for a new law.
The NCRB report says crime has increased dramatically in Rajasthan. In rape cases, Jaipur (409) is right next to Delhi (967), while the state is third overall for crimes against women, after Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
The NCRB report says early on that the crime was the result of various circumstances. We should avoid comparing states solely on the basis of numbers due to various state-specific policies and procedures. Some people make the mistake of assuming that increasing crime and increasing crime registration are the same thing. Our government implemented mandatory registration of FIRs in 2019. Previously, the police would write the report on blank paper and file an FIR only when they found evidence. But women and marginalized communities faced problems because of it. Now everyone’s FIR is recorded.
Not only that, in 2019 our government set up a special unit for investigating crimes against women under the leadership of a deputy senior SP officer in each district, now promoted to additional SP. For this reason, the investigation time in heinous cases such as rape has been reduced from 274 days in 2017-2018 to 73. We have also appointed lawyers in the courts, so that the culprit is not released. This is the reason why you keep reading that an accused was punished in 10 days or a decision rendered in a month.
But it is worrying that people are slandering this policy. Of the FIRs filed for crimes against women, 45.88% turned out to be false in 2019, 45.23% in 2020 and 47.56% in 2021, until June… The state is slandered because of people who abuse the law in this way.
This is your third term as CM. How about has changed?
The biggest difference lies in the relationship between the Center and the State. They used to work together, but now the Center treats opposition-led states in a step-step way. Rajasthan has applied for national project status for the Eastern Rajasthan Canal Project (ERCP). This was announced by the Prime Minister himself, but no action has been taken on it.
After the implementation of the GST, rajyon ke paas koi khaas aarthik sansadhan nahin bache hain (states do not have significant sources of revenue). The Center does not pay the GST dues on time, which blocks the development work of the state. They take unilateral decisions without consulting States and States must bear the consequences. And it is for the first time that central ministers are plotting to overthrow state governments – Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh…
Several letters have been written by you to the Center on the issue of ERCP. What was the response?
I wrote five letters to the Prime Minister and seven letters to Union Minister Jal Shakti. Minister Jal Shakti responded three times. The Center donated Rs 40,000 crore for the Ken-Betwa River Link Project, but took no action regarding the ERCP… We are determined to complete the ERCP, so we started the work using the ERCP. state budget itself, but it is difficult without central support, which is why we seek national project status.
… The political escalation has led to the blocking of development work. The people of the state realized that if you turn the roti quickly, it leads to an undercooked roti, so the people will bless us again in 2023.
The prices of gasoline, diesel and cylinders have increased. Do you think the BJP will lose votes on this account?
Economically well-off supporters of the BJP could still support it, but ask the common man, the Mazdoor, if their income has increased in proportion to inflation. Over the past five years, 22 million people have slipped below the poverty line. Can the impoverishment of the people be in the best interest of the nation like the BJP claims to do? … A package of Rs 20 lakh crore was announced during the lockdown (Covid), but it was based on loans and the economy did not benefit from it.
At the recent rally in Jaipur, Rahul Gandhi said that there is a difference between being a Hindu and being a Hindutva-vadi. Will Congress adopt Soft Hindutva as a strategy?
I have already spoken about this question and I will repeat it. A Hindu is one who believes in truth, non-violence, love, brotherhood and tolerance. Hindus hate no one and respect all religions. But chadm (pseudo) Hindutva-vadis believes in the spread of violence, intolerance and hatred. The difference between Hindu and chadm Hindutva-vadi is the same as between Gandhiji and Godse…
It is Rahulji’s belief that the BJP-RSS’s policy of hatred and violence after distorting the fundamental nature of Hinduism should come to an end.
Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat’s name appeared in the Sanjeevani Society case, and his appeal tapes also popped up in the attempt to overthrow your government last year. Has there been any action on both issues? Your OSD Lokesh Sharma has been summoned by Delhi police four times based on his complaint.
It is the difference between their government and ours. We never use legal agencies for political purposes. The police, the SOG (Special Operations Group), the ACB (Anti-Corruption Bureau), all work independently. We never give them instructions about a specific person. The law will run its course and the courts will punish him… He (Shekhawat) complained about a problem concerning Rajasthan to the Delhi police, while the law clearly states that a complaint is filed where the offense has occurred. occurred. Delhi police are working under pressure from the central government. But we believe that this bogus case (regarding OSD Sharma) will not stand in court.
You announced free sanitary napkins for women via Udaan Yojana.
There is such reluctance to discuss menstruation although it is a natural process. I was surprised to know that about 62% of women in the country use means other than sanitary napkins. Doctors say that using a cloth during menstruation can lead to several illnesses, including cervical cancer. Therefore, we have announced Rs 200 crore in this budget to provide sanitary napkins to all women in the state.
I believe there should be a debate across the country and governments need to plan (for this).