Former Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje tells D K Singh and Sweta Dutta why the Modi factor will work in the state,and why its voters wont be swayed by the Congresss poll freebies
Will the populist schemes launched recently in Rajasthan have a bearing on elections?
A young man wrote on my Facebook page,Cycle chahiye,paisa le lo,laptop chahiye,paisa le lo,yeh sarkar toh bheekh ki katori haath mein rakhkar hi chhodegi (Want a cycle,heres the money; want a laptop,heres the money; this government will not rest until it has made us all beggars). Theres money for everything,but no employment. That sums up what people think. I was astonished. Rajasthan ka aadmi swabhimaani hai (Rajasthanis are a proud people). Rahul Gandhi says I will give you four rotis and free medicine and you give me your vote. He could have been more elegant. For over 60 years,you have lived off peoples poverty. You immortalized the slogan Gareebi Hatao but the World Bank says 70 per cent of the people in India are poor. After 66 years of independence,who is to blame for this? The people of Rajasthan are proud and dont like to be dealt with in such an insensitive way. Why didnt the Gehlot government give pensions five years ago? We had introduced the Bhamashah Yojana and out of the Rs 800 crore allocated for it,I had already transferred Rs 200 crore. It was the precursor to what Nandan Nilekani is doing today (through the UIDAI). Rajasthan was the crucible in which the experiment was conducted. A female member of the family would get the card and Rs 1,500 would be deposited into her savings bank account. There was a health insurance of Rs 30,000. Seven lakh people had already benefited when the scheme was stopped (by the Gehlot government). We were the first state to start rolling out DBT (direct benefit transfers).
If you come to power,will you continue the populist schemes started by the Congress government?
We will continue all the good schemes. Once I come into government,there is no Congress or BJP,only what is good for the people.
You described free medicines as poison…
I never said that. I said there are no doctors,no lab technicians in the field,and that is true. I dont make stupid statements like that. Are there doctors in health centres? Are there specialists? Is there is a single gynaecologist (in a PHC)? In their absence,who will prescribe the free medicines? I am talking of the implementation part.
In hindsight,what went wrong for you in 2008?
I dont know what happened. A lot of water has flowed under the bridge. There were probably glitches.
A section of the RSS is said to be against you. This happened in 2008 too. What about you upsets the RSS?
Everybody doesnt agree to everything. We live in a democratic age. We disagree about certain things. We have agreed to disagree on certain points. But we have agreed to win this election and work together.
What do you think about the Gujarat model of development? Will the Vasundhara Raje model of governance be different from the Narendra Modi model of governance?
Every state is different. I have decided I am not going to reinvent the wheel. When I came to power we found there were some very good schemes in Chhattisgarh and Gujarat but we saw what would suit our state,and we modified them. On one thing we are all on the same page and that is what people want.
How will the Narendra Modi factor play out in Rajasthan?
Narendra Modi stands for development,for jobs,for amenities. He stands for bijli,paani,sadak; for schools where there are teachers; for hospitals where doctors are available. Everybody wants it. He is linked to that. A lot of people from Rajasthan go to Ahmedabad for work. They see for themselves what that state provides and expect the same here when they come back. Today,television takes us directly to drawing rooms in the US,China or Japan and we want the same things in our own country. Here is this man (Modi) who has the key to it. There was so much hype (about Manmohan Singh). Manmohan Singh was supposed to understand economics but what has he been able to deliver? This man (Modi) may not speak much English and may be from a village,but he has delivered. This is what people want. Today,people are clear that if you cant deliver,we do not have time for you.
Will Modi unite Muslims behind Ashok Gehlot?
Muslims are tired of worn out cliches now. Everybody wants to know what is there for him or her. Youngsters say it was much before their times. Can we get off it? It is outdated now. This is happening because people have lost faith. They believe in him (Modi) now. Forget Hindu,Muslim,Christian. As a human being I want my basic needs (to be met). Can you give it to me? They want jobs,education. The youth today see that their parents spend their last penny educating them but they dont have jobs. Their concern is employment. Am I worried about being a Muslim or am I worried about my meal?
If you were the chief minister when Godhra happened,how would you have reacted?
I was not the CM. I cant put myself in someone elses shoes. I dont know what happened. Something may have happened,but every day it is happening in the Congress. Look at Meerut,Moradabad… how come we forget all this? It (2002 riots) was terrible. Everybody finds it unfortunate. But what about good things? Why not look at Modis good governance? Why doesnt anyone talk of the gruesome murders committed by the Congress government,the wanton murder of Sikhs in Delhi? Is it forgivable? They have done much worse.