Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh’s son Abhishek is contesting from Rajnandgaon against the Congress’s Kamleswar Verma. A degree-holder in engineering and management, Abhishek, 33, spoke to The Telegraph on the day the Maoists killed 14 persons in Bastar and said the state was on the right track to address Naxalism.
The Telegraph: How has your campaign been so far?
Abhishek: I have covered the entire constituency twice. I visit 20 to 30 villages a day. People are looking forward to the BJP. They have lost faith in the Congress. Under the leadership of Narendra Modi, the BJP will form the next government at Centre.
Why should people lose faith in the Congress when the UPA government has started a number of welfare schemes?
UPA has not done enough. They have started some right-based schemes for affirmative action. I do not want to take away that credit. But they have not done much. The Chhattisgarh government has started more social welfare initiatives. We are the first to introduce food security law. There is a law in the state providing for right to skills training. There is a universal health insurance scheme also.
The UPA government has made India look weak at the international level. The facilities created for Commonwealth Games were too sub-standard. India has failed to secure its border. The number of scams that happened during this government is unprecedented.
Despite the welfare measures by the Chhattisgarh government, the state is one of the poorest provinces of India. Your comments?
In the last 10 years, the state government has been giving priority to social sector schemes. The focus is to address the minimum requirements of the people. The standard of living has improved.
Naxalism has also increased. If standard of living is better, why is Naxalism increasing?
Naxalism is not a recent phenomenon. Bastar shares the boundary with two other states. Since Independence, there was not enough governance in this area. Naxalites have found it their safe haven.
Are you confident the government will get rid of the Naxalite problem?
The government is moving in the right direction. The first thing is to win the trust of the people.
For that, we have started welfare schemes. The state government has started an education hub near Dantewada. To ensure proper implementation of schemes, the state government has carved out several districts from the undivided Bastar district.
The second approach is the anti-Naxalite operation. That will continue. But I think the priority should be to win the trust of people, so that people reject the Naxalites.
Third, land alienation is a major issue that helps Maoists approach the tribals. There should be a national policy to address land alienation.
You said the BJP will form the next government under Modi. Do you think Modi's personality as a pro-corporate leader will appeal to the people of Chhattisgarh where poverty is the major issue?
Modi is a decisive leader. He has experience and vision. He has done amazing work in developing Gujarat. If he is pro-corporate, I do not know.
But Modi being made Prime Minister candidate has created heartburn among top leaders in the party. Do you agree?
Modi is a perfect person to bridge the gap between two generations. He has worked with Advaniji and Vajpayeeji. He associates himself with the youth.
Do you think you are a beneficiary of dynasty politics?
Since I am the son of a senior BJP leader, should I have no right to enter politics?
What is your educational background and area of interest?
I did my Bachelor’s in engineering from NIT Raipur and MBA from XLRI. I was working in Citibank. But I have an interest in politics and public service, so I joined politics.
How much help do you get from your father in campaign and political activities?
He helps as much as he helps the other 10 candidates in Chhattisgarh.
● Rajnandgaon votes on April 17