Congress to return Bastar farmers’ land


“Congress lost its frontline leaders in a deadly Maoist attack (in May 2013). Many innocent jawans, local tribals and journalists have also lost their lives. If this problem was to be solved by blazing guns, it would have been solved during Raman Singh’s 15-year rule. The policy of bullet-for-bullet has failed miserably and it’s time to give a new thought to the issue,” he told TOI in an exclusive interview on Wednesday.

Referring to the spate of encounters and complaints of human rights violations, the CM said it would be a mistake to assume that deployment of more forces, intensifying encounters and counting of bodies indicate successfully countering the rebel problem. “Instead, I would look for solutions with the involvement of all those affected. I don’t want records of body counts,” he said.

He believes Naxalism is a socio-economic and political issue. “I feel there is a need to initiate a dialogue with the affected people, mainly of Bastar, and all other stakeholders on how to bring an end to violence and fear in the region,” Baghel said, adding that it is important to know their point of view as they are “direct sufferers and feel trapped in the situation”.

Asked about cases of corruption, raised by Congress while in opposition, Baghel said the law will take its course. “We don’t allow corruption cases to linger on for long. Wherever there are recommendations for action, either by Lok Aayog or other agencies, action will follow,” he promised.Asked about the state’s finances at the end of BJP’s 15-year rule, the chief minister said the state is in debt. “When the Congress government handed over power to BJP in December 2003, the exchequer had a surplus of more than Rs 400 crore. Now, the state is in debt and our government will come up with innovative measures to mop up revenue. We will encourage industries to set up units, use and add value to raw materials available in the state,” he said.C

The Congress government in Chhattisgarh will return to Bastar farmers the 2044-hectare land acquired in 2005 for a mega Tata Steel plant that has since been abandoned. The first step in fulfilling this poll promise could have ripples 1,000km away in Bengal’s Singur, where return of land acquired by the Tata Group for the Nano project is a long-pending demand. An election promise of Mamata Banerjee in 2011, the case is now in Supreme Court. Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel told TOI on Wednesday that his government has fulfilled yet another key poll promise after agri loan waiver and reopening of the investigation into the 2013 massacre of frontline Congress leaders. TNN