Bhopal: Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said that the Congress party had left behind such a mess in health and the education sectors that even 12 years have proved insufficient for bringing things back on the track. Chouhan is completing 12 years in office on November 29. On the eve of the big day, he talked about a wide range of issues in an interview with Free Press. Excerpts
FP: You have been the chief minister for 12 years. What gives you the greatest sense of satisfaction?
CM: After BJP came to power in the state, I got a lot of opportunities to work. I feel satisfied when I see a sense of satisfaction on faces of people. A lot of work was done in power, water, road and other sectors. The standard of living of the common man has improved. This gives me great satisfaction.
FP: Why does MP lag behind in the field of education and health?
CM: We have done a lot. Teachers were recruited. Seven new government medical colleges are coming up. This will improve things. During the Congress rule, the two sectors were completely ruined. Improvement will take time.
FP: How much time?
CM: As for the health sector, shortage of doctors is the biggest problem.We are doing everything possible to recruit doctors. Once that is done, there will a visible improvement. We have improved the quality of education imparted in the government schools. That is why; many of the students are getting admissions in top notch national institutions.
FP: Do you see Vyapam scam as your failure?
CM: It was I who brought Vyapam irregularities to light. Had I not ordered a probe, was it possible to discover a scam? My objective was to make the process of recruitments to government jobs transparent. That is why I decided to hand over the work toVyapam. I had set out to do good, but it was I who was put in the dock.
FP: Vyapam has brought a bad name for the state.
CM: In the other states, it is impossible to get admission in private medical colleges without paying a heavy capitation fee. I got rules framed for admissions to private colleges. Admissions were done through NEET. We took the legal battle for doing away with DMAT up to Supreme Court. My objective is not to brush irregularities under the carpet but to set them right. And I am doing it.
FP: It is often said that it is the bureaucracy, which is dominating the government.
CM: When you run a government you have to take many decisions. In many cases, bureaucrats do not agree. But when public interest is involved, I do not care about who agrees and who does not. No one is dominating the government.
FP: The Bhavantar scheme has come under fire.
CM: We have removed the misconceptions of the farmers regarding the scheme. Other states now want to replicate it. Some elements had deliberately spread misinformation about the scheme.We have dealt with it.
FP: Most of the food grains and other crops are selling at a lesser price than the last year.
CM: This is happening all over the country. Rates have fallen all over the country due to bumper production. In Madhya Pradesh, except urad, the price of no other crop has fallen. So, it is wrong to blame Bhavantar scheme for the fall in prices.
FP: Your political stature has grown in these 12 years. Do you face any problems in maintaining coordination with the party organisation?
CM: The party organisation has an equal share in the credit for whatever I could do. Whether it is the president or others, I have been getting their full cooperation.
FP: What are your future plans?
CM: I will continue to work to ensure that farmers get remunerative prices for their produce. A lot needs to be done for the welfare of the women and the children. Making all the residents of the state happy and satisfied is my basic agenda.