INDIA bloc indulging in scaremongering, misleading people with false statements: Arjun Munda

Congress wants tribals to remain downtrodden, charges union minister

Arjun Munda Union Minister Arjun Munda

Union Minister for Tribal Affairs and Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Arjun Munda, is the Bharatiya Janata Party's candidate from Khunti Lok Sabha constituency in Jharkhand in the ongoing elections. In an interview with THE WEEK, Munda exudes confidence about the BJP doing even better in these elections compared to 2019, when the party had won 12 out of the 14 seats in the state. He says the main reason for the confidence is the success of the Modi government in ensuring that its welfare schemes have reached the common man.

Munda accuses the rival INDIA bloc of indulging in scaremongering by talking about threats to the Constitution or the reservation policy. A sitting MP from Khunti, where the contest was extremely close in 2019, Munda says the result will be more decisive and in his favour this time as the people know that the BJP cares for them while the Congress is only trying to propagate myths.

What are the prospects of NDA in the Lok Sabha seats in Jharkhand?
In Jharkhand, we will do even better than last time. The reason is that the work done by the Modi government has reached the common man, the schemes have reached the common man. At the state level, the governance is in a pitiable state. The youth of the state have no expectations from the state government because of the numerous paper leaks that have taken place. The INDIA alliance is there, but in a Lok Sabha election, even a person in a village keeps in mind what is happening in the country and they want stability. 

The social categories that have so far been neglected have been looked after by our government and the Prime Minister has himself taken the initiative to formulate schemes for them. One of them is to transform tribal villages into model villages wherein their traditional way of life is preserved. On the other hand, the INDIA bloc is trying to mislead the people with the sole intent of winning elections.

The INDIA alliance is raising the issues of price rise and unemployment.
If you look at the all-India price index, it is stable. They should be asked to look at the situation between 2004 and 2014 and tell us what the price rise situation was like. There was policy paralysis, scams, price rise and collapse of the economy between 2004 and 2014. We are providing free foodgrains to 80 crore people. We faced the COVID challenge.

The INDIA alliance claims that the contest in the tribal seats especially will be close.
The Congress has only spread falsehoods in the last 60-70 years. They want the tribals to continue to remain downtrodden so that they can go amidst them and propagate myths. They claim that the reservation will end. Can reservation end in this country? They say we will change the Constitution? Is that possible? The Constitution is our holy book. Can you change the holy book? But they make these false statements in the villages and try to mislead the people. They are indulging in scaremongering.

The BJP is accused by the opposition of being anti-Adivasi. They ask why you have referred to them as Vanvasi and not Adivasi.
If I ask why Bharat is called India, what will the reply to that be? It is something like that. If you speak in a multilingual manner, there can be many descriptions. Ours is a multilingual country. Some people like it, others don't. If you don't like it, don't use it. The main issue is about how we maintain their original character. Their identity draws from their characteristics, not from any nomenclature. What are they trying to achieve by making it a political issue?

How big a factor is the arrest of Hemant Soren in this election?
We have zero tolerance for corruption. The agencies have to do their work. If they feel there is something wrong happening, they should have faith in the judicial system of the country.

It has been portrayed as an attack on Adivasi pride.
The law is equal for everyone. You cannot take benefit of privilege when it comes to legal matters. You can exercise your constitutional rights. But you do not get constitutional rights to indulge in corruption.

They claim they will get the sympathy of people.
They can make efforts in that direction. They cannot talk about their wrongdoing before the people, so this is what they will claim.

How do you look at the political debut of Kalpana Soren?
I will not comment on that. But, I will definitely say to ensure that India becomes strong, we have to rid the country of dynastic politics.

But Sita Soren, daughter-in-law of Shibu Soren, has joined the BJP.
What is dynastic politics? It means ensuring someone from the family is in the seat of power. If someone strikes out by dint of his or her own, there is nothing wrong with that.

Coming to your constituency, it had witnessed a tough contest in 2019 and you had won narrowly.
The people of Khunti are aware people. It is the land of Birsa Munda. Some people will definitely try to create confusion, but that will not have any impact. People have understood who cares most for them.

How do you assess your challenger Kalicharan Munda?
There are many challengers, many candidates. How can you say he is the only challenger? I am hopeful that the people will vote for a person who works for them.

What are the main issues in Khunti this time?
The Opposition is trying to wage an issue-less fight. The issues they have raised are actually related to the working of their own government in the state. There are issues that have to do with local administration. There is poor governance.

Migration is a big issue here.
Migration has been an issue. But, I have taken some initiatives such as skilling people and connecting them with companies. Hundreds of women and girls from this area are working in Tata Electronics.

Khunti's name figures in the illegal opium trade.
It is an issue related to the local administration, the state government.

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