Kamal Nath, the president of the Madhya Pradesh unit of the Congress, said that the party is confident of beating the ruling BJP in the upcoming assembly election. In an interview to ET’s Aman Sharma in Bhopal, he said that talks are on with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) for a possible tie-up to ensure that the BJP gets less than 50 seats in the 230-member assembly. Although he slammed Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan for increasing farm distress, unemployment and crimes against women, he said that he had never called Chouhan nalayak (incompetent), a reported comment that the CM took strong exception to. Edited excerpts:


What is the Congress party’s plan for election campaign in Madhya Pradesh?
There is a plan for Congress president Rahul Gandhi to come next month for a workers’ sammelan (convention) in Bhopal, and later a public meeting in Vidisha. It (Vidisha) is a constituency we have not won for a long time. That is why we want to do it there. It is a prominent constituency near Bhopal. It is the constituency of Sushma Swaraj, and was earlier the constituency of Shivraj Singh Chouhan. So we are going in their den.

How do you view the CM’s mega Jan Ashirwaad Yatra across the state?
If the CM had done such good work, he would not have to go the people for aashirwaad (blessings)… to buy aashirwaad… people would have come to him to give aashirwaad. This is nothing but a government yatra – all paid for on government expense, all government machinery used to collect crowds. Chouhan is misusing government funds and public money for political purposes. The yatra is good for the morale of the CM and BJP workers but yeh laayi hui bheed hai na ki aayi hui bheed (this is a brought-over crowd and not one which came on its own).

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Why is the Congress trying for a tie-up with the BSP? The CM told ET that this is an admission on the part of the Congress that it cannot beat the BJP.
We are doing so because we want the BJP to get fewer than 50 seats. The BJP is at an advantage only because of fragmentation of votes and it is looking for the same even now. Look at the 2014 parliamentary election – the BJP won 31% of polled votes, which means it got votes of just 22% of the total population, and it calls it a janadesh (public mandate). We can beat the BJP on our own in MP but we are trying for an alliance with the BSP to decimate BJP. We are talking to the BSP… I spoke to them last week and I am doing so next week too. We are talking to the BSP at various levels.

The CM has taken strong exception to your comment that he is nalayak…
At a press meet, a question was asked that the CM had said that I am his friend. I replied yes I am his friend – some of my friends are layak (competent), some are nalayak. I never called Chouhan incompetent. If he chooses to put himself in that bracket, I cannot help it. It was just said in jest. But, of course, the CM is my friend.

Who is the chief ministerial face of the Congress?
Our face in this campaign is the face of the distressed farmer, our face is the face of the unemployed youth and our face is the face of insecure women of the state. Madhya Pradesh today is the number one in farmers’ suicides, and more cases are being reported than in Africa. MP is the No. 1 in atrocities on women, rapes, unemployment and corruption. Look at the state of the roads… they are so bad and the CM is speaking of America’s roads. He has gone out of his head.

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