The Express Adda presented by Yes Bank in association with Olive and IIFL was at The guppy pop up at Olive, Mahalaxmi, Mumbai, last week. Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje spoke to Seema Chishti, Deputy Editor, and P Vaidyanathan Iyer, National Affairs Editor, The Indian Express, about the theory of continuity, making farmers partners in business, being a student in Mumbai, and dinner politics with family members from other parties
The second term as CM
During my first tenure, I was learning on the job. Luckily for me, Atal Bihari Vajpayee gave me a good opportunity. I used to ask myself why I got foreign affairs. You have to see the heart of the government through the personnel ministry, look at atomic energy and space, and the Planning Commission too. I got a crash course in everything and realised someone up there was preparing me for a job in the future. I made mistakes as a rookie but I had this to fall back upon. The second time around, you try to keep those earlier mistakes in mind. But things will pop up, and the best you can do is play the ball back right.
When I first came to the government, I believed in the theory of continuity. And we did that. A lot of good things happened during my period because, financially we had turned the state around, and had become a revenue surplus (state) from one which was in debt. We believed that the next guy will take it one step further, thereby creating a situation where Rajasthan would become economically more sound. That’s what we’re working for together. When we’re in government, everybody belongs to us and the state is our family. We need to work with them with love, affection and discipline. But I was extremely disappointed to see that the person from the Congress instead took the whole thing apart. We have gone into a R2,10,000-crore debt, which doesn’t happen in five years time.
Rajasthan’s first cow protection minister
I don’t have the world’s first cow minister, Madhya Pradesh does. We have an agriculture ministry under which we have an animal husbandry section. It has horticulture, fisheries and we have now added cows. Rajasthan has problems with drought. Because we have over five lakh animals in the field, it’s important to oversee it, as poor people depend on them when crops fail. We have this cushion to fall back on and for this reason we don’t have as many suicides as in Vidarbha. We have to see that these animals do not starve and veterinary doctors are around to treat them.
The farmer death at Jantar Mantar
The way it happened was particularly horrific. People egged this poor person on to the tree, somebody else wrote a suicide note because his father told me categorically that it’s not his handwriting. We know the family and they are not badly off and the father also said they have no problems at the farm and even have vehicles in the driveway. He said, unfortunately, you people have created a situation which should not have happened. So between the politicians and the media, a situation was created where this man finally slipped. Good work cannot happen in districts and states if media worries about their TRPs.
Land Acquisition Bill
I’ve never had a problem because we work with farmers, and make them partners in the process. When I made the Mahindra World City, for example, 25% of the land was given back to the farmers, after being commercialised. And they are happy with whatever we are doing with it. Now, for example, in Barmer and Jaisalmer where we are executing solar power projects, the huge areas of land are owned by farmers. The issue there is that it’s a banjar area and they don’t earn much from it. The government asked the farmer to deal directly with the company. So you become a partner in the business and get an income from it.