The Telegraph
Sunday, November 19, 2017

CM confident, Opp. adrift

Ranchi: Chief minister Raghubar Das has set himself the ambitious goal of eradicating poverty in Jharkhand by 2022, his confidence to set himself such a lofty target stemming from an Opposition in disarray that, he feels, will help him sail to power again in the 2019 Assembly elections.

"There is nothing called Opposition unity. Mark my words, BJP will bag all 14 Lok Sabha seats in 2019 and will win by two-thirds majority (in Jharkhand) this time," he told The Telegraph last week in an exclusive interview.

He said while Congress would be wiped out because of infighting between Sukhdeo Bhagat, Subodh Kant Sahay and Pradeep Balmuchu, the JMM was "dead" since its leader had no connect with the people.

"People of Jharkhand repent 14 years of coalitions. People have realised the strengths of political stability," he said.

During the conversation, held over one-and a half hours at his Project Building office, the chief minister spoke on a wide range of topics, including statehood day celebrations, investment conclaves, protests by tribal leaders and Aadhaar and ration linkage.

Das admitted there was a lot more to be done, but claimed the BJP-led government was no longer seen as anti-tribal. "We have been able to win the confidence of the people," he said and elaborated how during a recent trip to Bokaro he announced a massive development plan for the Santhal pilgrimage site of Lugu Buru Ghanta Bari.

"Before me, three Santhals were CMs-Sibu Soren, Babulal Marandi and Hemant Soren. Why didn't they do something for this place? No one cared. But, my government cares for all," Das said.

On recent back-to-back tribal rallies against his government, Das said he believed these were being held at the behest of missionaries, who were nervous about the government's anti-conversion law. "Missionaries' agenda is to hold back development," he said.

The government's target for the coming year, Das noted, was to end poverty by 2022. " Garibi khatam kar dena hai. (poverty has to be eradicated)," he said, pointing to CM Udyami Board as the vehicle to help meet that goal by providing livelihood options in rural areas.

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