Leader of Opposition in the Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly, Dr Govind Singh (71) is one of the most powerful Congress leaders in Madhya Pradesh. He is also one of the senior-most MLAs in the state, having been elected seven consecutive times since his first victory in 1990 from the Lahar constituency in Bhind district.
Dr Singh was cabinet minister for the General Administration Department (GAD), Legislative Affairs Department and Cooperatives Department from 2018 to 2020 in the Kamal Nath-led Congress government in the state. He was earlier the Minister of State of the Home Department in 1998 when Mr. Digvijaya Singh was Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh. A qualified Ayurveda doctor, he holds the degree of Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (BAMS) from the Government Ayurvedic College in Jabalpur, MP. He is a member of the All India Congress Committee (AICC). Gaurav Chandra spoke to Dr Govind Singh on various matters. Excerpts
Q: With the Assembly elections due at the end of this year, how is the Congress party preparing and what outcome do you foresee?
A: The Congress will return to power with a thumping majority, as the people of the state have decided to throw out the BJP. People of the state had voted the Congress to power in 2018 but they could only watch helplessly when the BJP conspired and toppled the government in 2020. People are now facing a plethora of problems under the BJP regime and this year, therefore, the people have made up their minds to vote the Congress to victory with such a margin that there remains no room for any doubt.
Q: What are the main problems, according to you, troubling the people of Madhya Pradesh under the BJP rule?
A: The list of problems and points of the BJP’s misgovernance are endless. However, I feel the biggest problem is corruption, utterly blatant corruption in all departments and at all levels of the BJP government. Ministers and government officials are busy minting money and have no concern about the welfare of the people.
Q: You have been targeting the BJP government over the law and order situation in MP and you have also criticised the Police Commissioner system introduced a couple of years ago at Bhopal and Indore. Why?
A: The term ‘Law and Order’ has taken a totally new meaning in the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government. It now means, ‘Lao and Order le Jao’ (Bring money and take any order). Postings of police officers are being done through money, even at the lower ranks and police station level. As a result, officers are completely insensitive towards their duties. The crime rate across MP has soared and there is no check from the police. As far as the Commissioner system is concerned, I want it to be scrapped and will definitely try my best to get it removed when the Congress forms government. This system is very expensive and, worse, it has proved to be ineffective. Earlier there used to be one top police official in a city who felt the responsibility of his job. But now there are so many officers that no one is willing to take the onus of maintaining law and order.
Q: Before the year-end polls, the monsoon session of the State Assembly could be the last one to take place. How do you plan to corner the BJP government in the session?
A: Frankly, I am very doubtful whether the monsoon session would be called at all and if it were, then would it be held in a proper way. The BJP does not believe in democracy and democratic systems. It is a fascist party. No assembly session has been conducted with the proper decorum or for its entirety. As soon as some minister or important person connected to the government appears to be getting caught in any matter in the house, the government immediately starts taking measures to kill the session before schedule. During Digvijaya Singh’s government, the budget sessions had sometimes been of 75 days and were conducted fully. In Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s rule, the assembly was conducted only for 33 days in a whole year.
Q: You have been a supporter of the demand to return to the ballot paper system for voting. Do you still maintain your stand?
A: Not just me and the Congress party, but several other opposition parties have also been demanding that the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) must be done away with. We believe that it is best for the sake of democracy to return to the ballot paper system for polls. I strongly feel that there is a possibility of tampering with the EVM. In any case, when a majority of political parties in India are demanding to end the EVM system, I feel this demand of the majority must be respected and the ballot paper system must be reintroduced.
Q: Some disgruntled senior leaders of the BJP in MP have joined the Congress in recent days. Do you think more would follow suit?
A: The Congress actually does not have any dearth of powerful and efficient leaders of its own. However, if any respectable leader of the BJP, who is being overlooked and belittled by that party, wants to join the Congress, then we would have no problem. We think that even in the BJP there are still some honest leaders who respect the democratic system and believe in healthy and fair politics like the Congress.
Q: Who would be the face of Chief Minister for the Congress for the year-end Assembly polls in MP?
A: Without any doubt, Kamal Nath is the unanimous choice for the CM face of the Congress in MP. I am certain that the Congress will form the state government and Kamal Nath will be sworn in as the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh for the second time at the end of this year.