June 7, 2023

As the Congress attacks the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the economic slowdown, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel has said no impact of the slump is felt in the State, thanks to his government’s policy of “putting money in the hands of the people”.

In an interview to The Hindu, Mr. Baghel said auto sales and real estate purchases had gone up in the past nine months, as the higher grain procurement price and the farm loan waiver drove up the people’s purchasing power. “According to the data from March this year, automobile sales have gone up by 36%. Not one automobile dealer has shut shop. The jewellery market has grown by 84%, and the revenue from new property registration has shot up from ₹92 crore last September to ₹152 crore this month,” he said.

The Congress leader said his government had spent ₹20,000 crore on grain procurement that helped 20 lakh farmers; ₹10,000 crore on loan waiver and ₹1,000 crore on power subsidy. “If there is money in the hands of the people, they will use it to buy motorcycles, water pumps, jewels or build a house,” he said.

Mr. Baghel was in New Delhi to invite party interim president Sonia Gandhi to the October 2 launch of ‘Suposhan’, a scheme to provide hot meals to families living below the poverty line, Mukhyamantri Haat Bazaar Clinic and Urban Slum Health Scheme. These schemes will cover 40% of the population.

But he clarified that his government would not launch the the minimum income guarantee scheme (Nyay) any time soon. The Congress had laid out the scheme in its Lok Sabha election manifesto. “This was meant to be a Central government scheme…We will have to study the implication and decide whether we can roll it out in future… We have no problem in implementing it, but the people preferred nationalism to Nyay.”

Asked why the Congress won only two of the 11 Lok Sabha seats in the State if the party had delivered on the promises, he said: “…if one wins a Lok Sabha seat by over three lakh votes, how come there were not even 50 people to celebrate the victory? When we won in the Assembly elections, people were felicitating us for almost two months.” But he refused to elaborate on his statement when asked whether he had any doubt about the outcome of the Lok Sabha election.

To a question on the factionalism in the ruling Congress in neighbouring Madhya Pradesh, he said: “Contradictions exist in every organisation. [The BJP’s Bhopal MP] Pragya Singh Thakur called Nathuram Godse who killed Bapu [Mahatma Gandhi] a patriot. The BJP government has asked every MP to take out a ‘padayatra’ to commemorate Bapu’s jayanti. Now, will she undertake a ‘padayatra’ or not?”

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