SHIVRAJ SINGH CHOUHAN, who was chief minister of Madhya Pradesh for 13 consecutive years, eyes a comeback, although Kamal Nath seems to be firmly in the saddle in Bhopal. In an exclusive interview with THE WEEK, Chouhan says he expects the Congress government to collapse from internal troubles.
The BJP has been claiming since December that the Congress government will collapse. While Karnataka recently saw a big political change, nothing has happened in Madhya Pradesh.
The Congress does not have a majority in Madhya Pradesh. It is surviving with the support of the SP, the BSP and the independents. If I wished so, I would have stopped the Congress from forming the government as the independents were in touch with us, too. But I thought the Congress should get the opportunity as it was the single largest party. We are not hungry for power. For us, it is just a way to serve the people. So we have no interest in destabilising the government. But this government is doing nothing but looting the state. Even the head of the government is involved in the loot. The governance systems have collapsed.
What about two of your MLAs voting in favour of the government? There is talk of more MLAs switching over.
From the day it assumed power, the Congress is breaking democratic traditions. But all BJP MLAs are standing strong with the party.
Do you think the Kamal Nath government will complete its five-year term?
The Congress government might collapse under its own weight. There is so much internal feud. So many groups and sub-groups exist. It is difficult to say how long this government can survive.
What are the biggest strengths and weaknesses of Kamal Nath as chief minister?
I do not want to make any personal comments. I have already spoken about how the government is functioning.
Everyone believes that it was because of you that the BJP won so many seats in the assembly polls. Why were you not chosen as leader of opposition?
I am a party worker and the party uses its workers where it thinks best. This does not mean I will not work in Madhya Pradesh. I certainly will. I was chief minister of the state for over 13 years, but it does not mean that I should become the leader of opposition. Other leaders, too, should emerge.
Do other BJP leaders in the state feel uncomfortable because you are vocal about issues related to the state?
There is no question of discomfort. Everyone works together and takes up issues on different forums. Since I was chief minister for so many years, responding to their problems is natural.
Will your new role as the BJP’s national membership committee convener affect your focus on Madhya Pradesh?
You must have noticed that I continue to deal with even small issues of the people of Madhya Pradesh. I fight for them. I have an emotional attachment with 7.5 crore people of the state and it will continue till my last breath.
Do you see yourself back as chief minister?
I have never sought any post. I never thought that I would be an MLA. I never tried to become chief minister, but was asked to fulfil the responsibility. I kept on doing what the party asked me to. I will continue to do so.