With Madhya Pradesh readying for polls in 2023, political parties have started their preparations. The states law and order situation, controversies regarding Bollywood, religious issues, Uniform Civil Code have often been in the headlines from Bhopal to New Delhi.
The Bharatiya Janata Party has been in power in the state since 2003 (barring 15 months of the Kamal Nath-led Congress government). Senior BJP leader and Home Minister Narottam Mishra, who often made headlines with his statements and became the most popular political face in the BJP after Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, answered questions from IANS in an exclusive interview.
IANS: Last year, a much needed police commissionerate system was introduced in two big cities- Bhopal and Indore. How have things changed since then and will the system be introduced in some other districts?
Mishra: The police commissionerate system is a big step, and of course it is needed. We will review the outcome with the Chief Minister in January, and then we will be able to make further announcements in this regard.
IANS: With the fast changes in the society, the police have multiple roles to play. A ‘modern policing’ system is on demand. What are the steps taken in the last few years and what are the new steps the home department is going to introduce?
Mishra: The police have always played multiple roles but with the arrival of cybercrime, methods of police action have changed because the crime perpretators are operating the nexus from a distance.
The responsibilities of the police towards the society have increased and to ensure better service, they need the best equipment and infrastructure. We have established several cyber cells across the state. We are following the Centre's guidelines and modern systems are being introduced.
IANS: The BJP has been in power for nearly two decades in Madhya Pradesh, what has improved in this period especially in public security issues and what challenges are ahead?
Mishra: See, it is on record that when the BJP formed the government in 2003, Madhya Pradesh was in full control of mafia gangs, dacoits and Naxals. People had no faith even in the police. So the first big achievement is that the perception of people towards the police has changed. Now the people trust the police and it didn't come overnight, but it could happen because of relentless efforts of the entire police system of the state.
Perceptions towards the police have changed because the nexus of organised crime has been destroyed completely. At present there is no nexus of organised crime. Growing naxalism was a big challenge before us, which we have controlled. In the last 18 years, the MP police did not allow naxalism to grow in any part of the state. SIMI’s network has been completely destroyed in Madhya Pradesh and we have also controlled the PFI. Before 2003, things were completely opposite.
IANS: But the Opposition attack on the BJP and MP's Home Minister over the growing crime graph and law and order situation?
Mishra: We have controlled nexus crime. Earlier, there used to be dacoits in the Gwalior-Chambal regions, but today you will not find a single dacoit. People used to live in fear that they could be kidnapped at any time, this has changed now.
Those trying to create panic among the people are being destroyed completely. Thousands of acres of land which was encroached by land mafias, has now been given to poor people to build their homes.
If the Congress targets us on daily crime issues, they should do it but it is a different subject. Let me tell you that Naxals carrying a combined reward of over Rs 1 crore were killed by the MP police in the last one year, including one who was gunned down during an encounter.
Most of these killed were area commanders and they were well trained and equipped with AK-47s.
IANS: Your relentless attack on Bollywood in the name of protecting Hinduism and Sanatan culture has sparked a controversy. How would you respond to it?
Mishra: Should I maintain a silence and let them misrepresent our rich Hindu and Sanatan culture? They will keep hurting people in the name of freedom of art and nobody will speak against them, what kind of perception are we having?
I am not against their freedom of art, but will not allow them to hurt our religious sentiments at any cost. Why is that every time they do such things on Hindu gods and goddesses, and not dare to do the same with others. This is what I say and I will always stand to protect our sanatan dharma.
IANS: Your vocal criticism against the opposition and on religious issues created an impression that the Madhya Pradesh Home Minister is a hardliner, but you also often impress the people and even the opposition with your sarcasm using poetic lines. What would you say to this?
Mishra: I can’t say what kind of perception people have about me but they also know that questions raised by me are not wrong. About the opposition, I would say that they are political opponents and not enemies. Democracy flourishes with contribution of both the ruling party and the opposition and we should always respect it.
IANS: A controversy erupted over the Uniform Civil Code (UCC). The MP government has already introduced the PESA Act and announced implementation of the UCC in the state. On the other hand, the opposition accuses the BJP of playing the communal card in view of the Assembly elections. What is your view on this issue?
Mishra: If the UCC wasn’t a need, then why did Dr B R Ambedkar recommend it? But the Congress’ politics of appeasement kept the matter in cold storage despite being in power for over 70 years. The time has come when we need to progress with Ek Vidhan, Ek Samvidhan aur Ek Rashtra (one legislation, one constitution and one nation).
Be it the decision to abrogate Article 370, criminalising triple talaq, Citizenship (Amendment) Act or any other progressive steps taken under the leadership of PM Modi, the Congress has found only politics in it because they have always done politics of appeasement.
IANS: Madhya Pradesh is gearing up for a high-voltage Assembly election at the end of 2023, how is the BJP prepared for the elections. A buzz has started in political circles that Narottam Mishra will lead the party from the back end.
Mishra: BJP will come back to power with a full majority. The people of Madhya Pradesh had 10 years of Congress rule from 1993 to 2003 and again for 15 months in 2018 to 2020. Madhya Pradesh has seen all round development under the BJP government. We will contest elections under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi and our Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. The Congress is living in a daydream these days, but the people of the state are with the BJP's development agenda.
IANS: What is your message to the people of Madhya Pradesh for New Year?
Mishra: I wish all of them a very Happy New Year, but at the same time I would appeal to them to follow Covid protection guidelines and celebrate the occasion peacefully, maintaining law and order.