Rajgarh: As Narendra Modi hits the campaign trail in MP, Congress leader Digvijay Singh trained his guns on him, saying the BJP`s Prime Ministerial candidate will not have an impact as he has no vision for the country and "only knows how to abuse".
The former Madhya Pradesh chief minister also claimed that the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government is taking credit for works initiated during his tenure and challenged the Chief Minister to an open debate on development work carried out during their respective tenures.
Hitting out at Modi, the Congress leader said he won`t have any impact as "People have now realised that this man only knows how to abuse. He has not projected any vision for the country and his tall claims of Gujarat model of development have been exposed".
"Modi`s ignorance of Indian history, of the history of even Bhartiya Jang Sangh is something, which people have now understood," he told a news agency in an interview during a campaign trail in Rajgarh, a Congress strong-hold represented by Singh twice in the past.
Asked about Chouhan`s defamation notice to Congress leadership over "defamatory" advertisements against his family, the AICC general secretary said that he would prove the charges of personal corruption against the chief minister’s family in court.
Singh, who was Chief Minister of the state for ten years before the BJP then led by Uma Bharti in the state replaced Congress here in 2003, also says that the "hype" about Shivraj model of development is not matched by facts.
"They (BJP) had levelled charges of corruption against Digvijay Singh. I filed defamation case against Uma Bharti, Sundarlal Patwa (both former Chief Ministers of BJP), and Vikram Verma. They have not been able to prove a single charge of corruption against me.
"Now I am levelling charges against Shivraj Singh Chouhan and his family and I dare him to bring about a show-cause notice and lodge a defamation case against me. I will prove in the court that not only he but his whole family has been corrupt," Singh said.
He also stated that the "dumper scam" was not investigated properly.
During the hour-long interview, Singh talked in detail about the party`s charges against Chouhan government, corruption in contracts and construction works and government recruitments.
Maintaining that the "hype" of the so-called Shivraj model of development is not matched by facts, he claimed that all schemes for which the BJP government is taking credit were started during Congress government headed by him.
"I am prepared to debate with Shivraj Singh Chouhan on every issue of development during my tenure and his tenure. All the schemes for which they are taking credit were started during my period," Singh said.
He also said that during his second tenure, it was the NDA government which was in power at the Centre and had "starved state governments of central assistance".
"During NDA, all the states used to be under overdraft. But as the government of India under the UPA has increased central assistance to states, all state governments are now in surplus except three states of West Bengal, Kerala and Punjab. So when we were starved of funds, what could we do," Singh asked.
To a question as to why the BJP is in power in the state for last ten years, if things were so rosy during the Congress government led by him in Madhya Pradesh, Singh said, "In 2003, it was unfortunate but true that the Congress was not very united and in 2008 unfortunately, there were some issues in nomination of Congress candidates because of which we could not make it."
Singh said "anti-incumbency" against the BJP government in the state is showing up and people have now come out in open to vent their "ire".
He, however, refused to accept that the results of the five assembly elections including Madhya Pradesh could be considered a sequel to the next general elections as far as political fortunes of Congress and BJP are concerned.
"State elections have no bearing on national and Parliament elections.In 1998 March, the BJP won most of the Parliament seats in Madhya Pradesh but when it came to the assembly elections, Congress party won. So the one does not make a difference on the other," he said.
When told that Chouhan had been attacking the performance of the ten year-old rule of Congress in the state, Singh pointed to figures to prove that his tenure in Madhya Pradesh was better than that of BJP’s.
"All the hype of Shivraj Singh`s Chouhan’s model of development is not matched by facts. The loan on the state has gone from Rs 20 thousand crore during my tenure to Rs 94 thousand crore during these ten years. An increase of almost 74 thousand of crores, while during my tenure it increased by 15 thousand crores.
"That is almost five times more increase in the loan. The condition of roads is as bad as or even worse than what it used to be during my tenure. It is not only the major districts roads but even the state highways.
"All the quality control that we have put in PWD control has been withdrawn. The number of people under poverty line has gone up. The number of children suffering from malnutrition has gone up. Corruption is rampant and Chief Minister and his family is involved in these personal corruptions," Singh said.
The AICC leader also pointed out that from 1993 to 2003, the Congress government headed in the state by him "fulfilled every promise made in 1993 and 1998.
"Whenever my election manifesto was to be released, we gave detailed accounts of the election promises we have fulfilled. The election manifesto implementation was monitored by Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission, which I as a Chief Minister used to monitor. This practice was done away with in the BJP regime.
The former chief minister, who heads a powerful faction in the state and is believed to have been sidelined in ticket distribution in the state assembly election this time, however downplayed talk of disunity among state Congress leaders but added, "there may be some differences in the leadership but the workers are totally united."
Congress has projected Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia as a face in this election, making him the chief election campaign committee.
Asked whether definitive projection of a CM candidate could have given Congress some lead in the state, Singh disagreed. "It is not correct".
"Congress party fights the election on programmes and policies, on the strength of its own performance and on the strength of the election promises that we are meeting,” he said.
To a question as to how this mix of so many Congress leaders will be able to take on the BJP, which has a strong face in Shivraj Chouhand, Singh said, "Congress party has got senior state leaders in Kantilala Bhuria, a tribal, Ajay Singh Rahul, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Kamal Nath.
"They are all powerful leaders...There is no cocktail of leadership, there is collective leadership. Once we get majority, the leaders the Congress party will then take the views of MLAs and then they will elect their leader with the consent of the leadership.”
To a question, he said it is wrong to assume that Congress is losing ground since 2009.
"From 2009 onwards in every state election that has been held except Goa, our vote shares and seats have increased. The BJP`s vote share and seats have been reduced. We have snatched four seats from them and only Goa has gone out of our hand. Even in Gujarat, the number of seats and percentage of votes of Congress party has increased," he said.
Asked if he sees Muslim votes also coming to the BJP as Shivraj Singh Chouhan is considered a moderate leader, he said the fact remains that the Muslims in Madhya Pradesh have been "victimised".
"False cases have been registered. Riots have taken place and their property have been damaged and they have not got any compensation...Even the grants given by central government`s minority affairs ministry have been misutilized and non-Muslims have been given scholarship from this fund."
He also dismissed as "doublespeak" Chouhan’s barb that Congress had now brought a Maharaja (Jyotiraditya Scindia) in state politics after giving a Raja (Digvijay Singh) to rule the state.
Rejecting BJP’s attack on Congress manifesto for the state, he said Chouhan never told people how many promises made in the previous manifestos of BJP were fulfilled.