Shankersinh Vaghela: The policy and politics of the ruling BJP’s national leadership and the Gujarat government’s compulsion to blindly toe their line is seriously affecting the interests of Gujaratis in the state. It used to happen when the Congress was in power and continues till date. Therefore, I plan to deliberate with intellectuals and experts from various walks of life on how to ensure good governance while taking people in confidence. But, before I venture into this, I would meet Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel and take their guidance.
Elections will come and go. However, if elected representatives of people keep on defecting from one party to the other, then there will be no improvement in the lives of people. In fact, I feel defection amounts to cheating with the voters. In the coming days, I plan to meet people who are interested in public life and working for the betterment of society. Leaders of BJP, Congress, or NCP have their own political compulsions, but that should not affect the interest of the people.
A batsman hits fours and sixes without any pressure in cricket. A similar situation needs to be created in politics where leaders should not work under compulsions and have the freedom to take independent decisions. I think a minister should not be under any pressure or compulsion to take a stand on the prohibition of alcohol, giving employment opportunities to the jobless, farm loan waiver, or subsidised electricity to farmers.
Under the present state government, Adivasis are being exploited, Dalits are facing unimaginable hardships, OBCs are unhappy with their situation, and the Patels had to come out to demand reservation. In fact, no caste or community in Gujarat at present is happy and there is no one to hear their sorrows. I will meet with leaders, who are willing to work for the people and not for their own selfish interest, to decide the future course of action.
There are several examples of those with people’s interest at heart getting elected in this country. Jagan Reddy won Andhra Pradesh despite the presence of four major parties, while Mamata Banerjee marched ahead to form the government in West Bengal despite severe competition.
In Haryana, the young leader Dushyant Chautala changed the face of politics and became the deputy chief minister—thanks to the work he did for the people within a short span of time. Arvind Kejriwal’s performance got him a second term in Delhi. This proves that what we need today are leaders who will work for the people and society’s interest.
Some of the decisions taken by my government in 1996-97 continue to be in force even now including the one where we did away with the norm of people having to wait for an appointment to meet a leader. The holding of lok darbars, removal of beacon on official cars, chief minister not taking a salary, keeping a trimmed security cavalcade, and decentralisation of decisions are some of the steps that were taken by my government.
I had begun the initiative of bringing the cabinet to the people, and taking decisions in the presence of the people and bringing an end to their problems, which is known as single window system.
The interest of both farmers and industrialists were safeguarded then. My government then had offered MSP for cotton farmers that had been unheard of till date. Such a government is what we call a people-centric government
(The writer is a former chief minister of Gujarat and is in active politcs for the last 50 years. The views and opinions expressed in this article are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Gujarat Exclusive.)