Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister and state Congress chief Kamal Nath has high hopes of his party bouncing back to power in the state in the near future.
Addressing a video news conference on Sunday, he claimed the BJP government may not last beyond the bypolls to the 24 vacant Assembly seats. He expected the Congress to win 20-22 of the seats.
Kamal Nath said that the betrayal by 22 former MLAs of Congress and the BJP’s role in toppling his government right when the nation was supposed to deal with coronavirus were not lost on people’s mind.
“The voters are very much aware of happenings around them and they can hand a verdict quietly. You can gauge their mood on social media or when you talk to them in those constituencies. So, I am very confident of the comeback of Congress,” Kamal Nath said when asked if he will hoist the national flag in MP on Independence Day.
Even while answering all political questions, Kamal Nath kept insisting that, as of now, the priority was to deal with the situation arising out of Covid-19 pandemic. He attacked the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government for “mismanaging the crisis”. “Unless the BJP shows some vision in its strategy, the state will get sucked into darkness,” he said.
He said that the biggest failure was in the government’s inability to get the suspect cases tested. “What kind of testing is being done, why are results coming after more than 10 days? In these 10 days, even negative persons will get infected in the hospitals and those infected might die. Also, how much testing is being done in rural and semi-urban areas, with such an influx of returning migrant labourers. Perhaps they believe if there is no testing, there will be no cases. This is disastrous,” Kamal Nath said.
For once, Kamal Nath chose to speak up about his failure and that of his party’s top leadership to read the dissent in the party that reflected on his acumen and overconfidence. “I certainly have political experience of 40 years, but I did not have the experience of the politics of deals and allurements and burning ambitions. I was communicating constantly with our MLAs even in Bengaluru and they told me of the tempting deals on offer, I told them to do whatever they deemed right,” he said.
Kamal Nath scotched the theory that the Congress MLAs left because they were unhappy. He said had all the records of communications with them and how many of their works were done.
“Will they accept that they went out of temptation and as part of the deal? I know how much time I gave them despite being personally running the government with ministers and not outsourcing it like the previous government,” he said.
He denied differences with former Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh or that Singh gave him the impression the MLAs would not quit the party. “My relations with Digvijaya Singh will continue as before. I do not need any new team,” Kamal Nath said.
He strongly denied the BJP claim that his government did not take enough steps to prevent the Corona crisis.
He said that steps were taken right from January end when there were only a few cases in the country. All through February, different meetings were held and orders issued to deal with the situation, though the pandemic was declared only on March 12. He listed out a series of date-wise steps to prove his point.
“BJP and Shivraj (Singh Chouhan) kept cracking jokes about the Corona crisis saying our apprehension was misplaced. They were only busy pulling down the government and now they are trying to put the blame on us,” he said.
If Congress were in power, it would focus on procuring emergency equipment like ventilators, preventive gear like PPE kits and more testing kits and facilities, he said.
Kamal Nath also rebutted BJP charge about his government not fulfilling promises of farm loan waivers, saying that loans had been waived for over 27.22 lakh farmers in two phases and he has records of the same.
He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan still believed in the old trick of populist announcements. “But the point is about the strategy to implement these announcements. It is about how relief will be provided to farmers, small traders, labourers and small businesses. “How will they rebuild the economy that has totally collapsed?”