Q. How do you explain the setback the Congress received in the parliamentary election after the unprecedented mandate it won in the assembly polls just a few months earlier?
A. We began fulfilling all the promises we made to farmers, tribals and common folk soon after the assembly election. In the BJP, on the other hand, infighting came to the fore after the election and the morale of the party cadre was low. The BJP was nowhere to be seen in the Lok Sabha campaign. Most political analysts gave the Congress 10 or 11 seats, but when the results came, they were unexpected. No one here (in Chhattisgarh) had imagined this. But the results are in front of you.
Q. What do you think were the reasons for your defeat?
A. The reasons being offered are beyond comprehension. If you say it was nationalism arising out of the surgical strikes, then why did the issue not have an impact in states where non-Congress parties were pitted against the BJP, such as Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu or even West Bengal where the BJP did everything they could but could not pull off a clean sweep? The issue is something else, about which we have not been able to say anything. And if that is the issue, it is extremely dangerous. If it is the EVM, then it is very dangerous for democracy.
Q. This is a very serious allegation you are making.
A. The voters don’t know what’s inside EVMs whereas a ballot box has all the details of voting within it. Even the educated don’t know the intricacies of the EVM, what to say of common people.
Q. Your critics are saying you did not deliver on your promises and the Lok Sabha verdict is a reflection on your government?
A. That is wrong. We gave Rs 2,500 per quintal for paddy, above the Minimum Support Price of Rs 1,750. What can be a bigger delivery than this? Loans of farmers from cooperative banks have been written off. Between January and May, automobile sales in Chhattisgarh increased by 26 per cent when sales elsewhere were falling. Gold and silver purchases, construction of houses, sales of ACs and coolers have increased. It couldn’t have happened if there was no money in the hands of the people.