Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel being administered the oath of office by Governor Anandiben Patel during a swearing-in ceremony, in Raipur, Monday, Dec. 17, 2018.

Quota For The Poor Is Like Modi’s 2014 ‘Jumlas’, Says Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government managed to push through Parliament the bill that promises 10 percent reservation for economically weaker classes.

The move was seen as an effort to win upper caste votes. More so because it came ahead of the next general election and after Bharatiya Janata Party’s loss to the Congress in three key heartland states of Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

Bhupesh Baghel, chief minister of Chhattisgarh, called it another “jumla” (hollow promise). No one will benefit immediately from this and the common man knows that quite well, he told BloombergQuint’s Sanjay Pugalia in an exclusive interview on Rajpath series. Baghel, considered instrumental in his party’s win in the state, likens the move to the BJP government’s 2014 claim about getting black money back.

They are including Brahmins, Baniyas, Thakurs, Christians and Muslims. Three months will pass in understanding the contours of this bill. Everyone knows that this will eventually get stuck in the Supreme Court.
Bhupesh Baghel, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister

The quota gambit will eventually prove to be as futile as the black money claim, Baghel said, suggesting that it won’t help the BJP stem its political losses.

He said the Congress won the crucial semi-final by securing the three key states and that has set the momentum for 2019 Lok Sabha polls. And it wasn’t anti-incumbency but the Congress’ sheer strength that led it to a landslide win in Chhattisgarh, he said.

The BJP leaders themselves used to say that these state elections were the semifinal. We also played like it was the semifinal. We have won. Where is the BJP in the race now?
Bhupesh Baghel, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister

Tackling Naxalism

Baghel said the Congress government’s approach to tackling Naxalism will be different. The previous BJP government’s use of force didn’t help, he said.

Another way is to win the trust of the aadivasi people, which the previous government never bothered to do.
Bhupesh Baghel, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister

After Kashmir, the biggest paramilitary force is in Bastar, Chhattisgarh, according to Baghel. “We want to engage in a dialogue with all stakeholders so we can understand better how to tackle this issue. This will be a direct public outreach format,” he said. “If we win their confidence, then I believe that this problem will not last for long.”