EXCLUSIVE| Can Prahlad Patel be next Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister?

| Updated: 14 November, 2023 2:21 pm IST

NEW DELHI: In the midst of Madhya Pradesh’s elections, Bhopal becomes the focal point for political discourse. Union Minister for Food Processing, Prahlad Patel, discusses his political journey since 1979 with The New Indian‘s Executive Editor, Rohan Dua.

Covering the BJP’s evolution and Patel’s pride in representing his birth district, the interview explores the possibilities of him becoming a Chief Minister contender, contingent on BJP’s electoral success. Patel reflects on governance, development, and cultural heritage, emphasising his commitment to welfare and making India a global leader. The conversation also touches on initiatives like the ‘Jal Jeevan mission’ and the Mahakal corridor, crediting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision.

Rohan: As a seasoned leader, Mr Patel, your political journey dates back to 1979 when you secured victory in the Lok Sabha elections. During a time when BJP wasn’t at the Centre, you emerged as a prominent figure as the party was gaining national prominence. How does it feel to be summoned for assembly elections despite holding the position of Union Minister?

Prahlad: “I think, I have seen three phases: One of the coalition government, Atal’s (Atal Bihari Vajpayee) era and now we are heading to Modi’s (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) era. I have seen all the changes in politics very closely. I am really happy that the district where I was born and the district where I started my politics, I have been made a candidate from that place.

“The second thing is that my brother is MLA from there and there were accusations of nepotism all the time but the step that my brother has taken is so significant that it is a big slap on the face of nepotism and its direction for the next generation that the curse of greed and ego can be finished if you have values and traditions.”

Rohan: Do you think there is a likelihood for you to be chosen as a Chief Minister, if the BJP achieves a significant victory, given your extensive political experience, Union Minister role, OBC background, and support from Sangh and BJP?

Prahlad: “I believe that the party can’t function on perception. Political decisions don’t happen based on perception. For all of this, we will have to wait for December 3. Our first priority is to form a government in Madhya Pradesh for the fifth time.

“Second, our roadmap is very clear: Our first resolution is poor welfare, second is women’s empowerment and security of her self-respect, and the third is to make Bharat a ‘vishwaguru’ (global leader) in the world. We have become the fifth largest economy in the world and PM Modi is determined to make India the third largest economy by the third term but for that, it is important that Madhya Pradesh reaches the top spot in the country as a state.

“It’s a beautiful place, there are resources and possibilities and the biggest thing is that there is peace. There is good water and forests around. There is everything.”

Rohan: Your return to a position of trust is evident, transitioning from independent roles to overseeing Jal Shakti and Food Processing, and now assuming significant responsibilities. The principle of facing challenges, pushing back, and ultimately achieving victory is a life lesson. Can you share how these experiences led to personal growth and learning?

Prahlad: “As a party worker, one shouldn’t get entangled in all of this. I was a minister during Atal’s time. So, I should get that now too. There are many senior and experienced leaders and as time changes, one should accept that techniques will change. As generations change, there will be new developments.

“Although I am proud that when I was given the ‘Jal Jeevan mission’, we achieved the target of reaching more than 70 per cent of families. In more than seven states and union territories, we have accomplished the target of providing 100 per cent water. I think we should salute the vision of the Prime Minister.

“More than 70 per cent of families have already received water through the pipelines and still 2024 is far away. I think this resolution is a very big thing.”

Rohan: I’ve tracked your achievements in tourism, including the press conference on the Ram Setu study. Your commitment to showcasing the credentials of the Hindu religion, both for your state and the country, is noteworthy. Additionally, you commissioned a study on a significant site like Dara Shikoh, a phase I had the opportunity to witness alongside you. Can you reflect briefly on your contributions during this period?

Rohan: Regarding the ‘Jal Shakti mission’, do you observe a similar level of success in Madhya Pradesh under the leadership of Shivraj Singh Chouhan? Given your good equation with him as a party colleague, are you satisfied with the work they have accomplished in this regard?

Prahlad: “In both ways. Even when I was a culture minister and then even in the time of Jal Shakti. It’s an example that when it was Kamal Nath’s government the figure was only 2.5 per cent but when Shivraj came, he added 45 per cent which is a big thing on its own. But I consider it the vision of PM Modi.

“It’s not about Hinduism but rather about our legacy. We have a heritage that is older than 10,000 years. Along with development, we are a kind of people that take heritage together. We have been saying since the start that whatever there is in the world, be it food or structures, we have the best ones. Some religions have come into existence 2,000 years before and here in India, you will get so many things that are dated before Christ.”

Rohan: You mentioned the development of the Mahakal corridor in this government, emphasising the unique approach of the BJP compared to Congress. In attributing credit for this significant step, do you credit Shivraj, yourself, or the Prime Minister?

Prahlad: “The message is given by the Prime Minister. And the second thing is that we consider the time of Vikramaditya as a role model. It happened in Ujjain. The first centre of ‘Khagol’ was in Ujjain. So if we lead in ‘Khagol’ in the world, we can’t minus Ujjain.

“That is why we have to move ahead with our legacy and values from Sanatan Dharma only. That’s why, be it ISRO or any other organisation, they don’t work in English. Either it will be in Hindi or in Sanskrit. The reason is that we have not respected our culture and legacy which is the mistake of Congress. Be it Somnath or Ram Mandir. That’s why Modi or even Shivraj for the way they have made the Mahakal corridor.”

Rohan: Looking ahead to the end of your life, what will bring you the most satisfaction – serving as a Union Minister, becoming the CM of Madhya Pradesh, or holding a cabinet minister position?

Prahlad: “I don’t think we select the roles. Either destiny does it or the party decides it. Whatever responsibility you get, you should pray to God to complete it successfully in the most honest way possible. I pray for that. When we were in the opposition, we did that role in the most honest way without fearing anybody.

“When we got the opportunity to visit Manipur, we did that too. We shouldn’t think about promotion. If I get a job as a ‘Chaukidar’ I should perform it diligently and not think about promotion. Once one does that, it means you won’t be able to perform your duty fully.

Rohan: Who will Mahakal bless?

Prahlad: Only we will get those blessings.



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