What are the challenges before the Congress in Chhattisgarh?
There are many challenges, but we are sure to win hands down and with a comfortable majority. The people have already made up their mind. They are fed up with Raman Singh’s government. They have seen how the Maoists have spread across two-thirds of the state, how their natural resources have been sold at throwaway prices, how corruption is at its worst. Nothing gets done without money. They have seen how the bureaucracy dominates everything. The RSS workers have been harassing officials in the state administration. Because of all this, the people of Chhattisgarh want this government to go, and it will go.
The Chhattisgarh Congress is not in a good shape. What are the reasons for the divisions within the party?
This perception has been created by vested interests, including some sections of the media. In the Congress, we always fight until the tickets are distributed. I fight for my people, somebody else will fight for his people. It’s a big party, a democratic party, and everyone has a right to demand tickets. This makes everyone think that not all is well with the Congress. But once the decision is taken and Sonia Gandhi puts her signature on it, then all the differences vanish and we get united under one umbrella: the leadership of Sonia Gandhi.
Your name was missing from the press invite for Rahul Gandhi’s 26 September rally in Jagdalpur…
That was just a clerical error. The state Congress president and general secretary had already invited me to the rally. So, the press invite was not really important.
Why is there a degree of resistance to you within the party?
It’s a wrong perception. The leadership issue will ultimately be decided by Sonia Gandhi. In our party, we don’t project a CM candidate. It was only for the Himachal Pradesh polls last year that the party made an exception. The party sends observers to the state after MLAs have been elected. The observers convey the views of the MLAs to the party president and she decides who will be the leaders. The leadership question remains open until then.
Why did your party lose the Assembly polls in 2003 and 2008?
We lost by a small margin: the first time, by 4-5 seats, and the second time, by less than 2 percent vote share. But this time we will come back with a huge majority.