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M.P. will dictate political agenda for cow belt: Uma

By Our Staff Correspondent

BHOPAL, FEB. 13. The Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, Uma Bharti, today said that the issue of development, which had helped create a wave in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the recent Assembly elections, has now become the basic issue that would leave a lasting impact on politics across all northern States.

Ms. Bharti made this assertion while speaking as chief guest at a seminar here on the "Concept of Development and Role of Media'' organised by the Central Press Club at the Academy of Administration. While giving credit to the media and more particularly the Union Minister, Arun Jaitley, for focussing on development as an election issue, the Chief Minister said she was going to set the "tone and trend'' in North Indian politics.

She said the wind blowing from Madhya Pradesh would now engulf Bihar and added that even the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Mulayam Singh Yadav, was now compelled to talk of roads, electricity and water and other development related issues. While emphasising that Madhya Pradesh would now take the lead in setting the political agenda for the cow-belt, Ms. Bharti said it would be her endeavour to turn Madhya Pradesh into an A-category (Golden) State.

Ms. Bharti acknowledged the important role being played by the media and said she would always treat it as a means to carry her message to the people. While asserting that she respects the freedom of the Press, the Chief Minister said that Media should also respect every one's democratic right to privacy. In the same context, she turned down the contention by the resident editor of Hindustan Times, Askari Zaidi, that the Press was not bound by a politician's request to keep a conversation off the record.

Ms. Bharti said she was not going to wait for five years and has set a time frame of three-years for her Government to deliver results. At the end of this period, the "report card'' would be ready and the State Government's remaining tenure of two years would be devoted to filling the gaps, she emphasised.

The Chief Minister stressed the need for all-round development and said the State Government would soon come out with a `Road Vision' that would indicate the yearly break-up of road projects to be taken up on a realistic basis in the State. The Government's priority would also revolve around the initiatives to check electricity theft and ensure rational utilisation and conservation of resources like "jal-jungle-jameen-janwar'' (water, forest, land and cattle). She said it is unfortunate that large section of people continue to suffer from the "cow-dung and cow-urine fixation'' forgetting that the cow has remained at the core of our economy for thousands of years. The Chief Minister also announced that the tribals would be encouraged to grow medicinal plants on commercial lines.

The Minister for Forest, Mines and Transport, Dhal Singh Bisen, in his speech said that the politicians have a close relationship with the media. He also stressed the importance of all-round development while adding that materialistic growth without "peace and spirituality'' cannot be equated with development.

The Minister for Commerce and Industry, Kailash Chawla, said the concept of development for India is bound to be different from that of the other developed countries. It is unfortunate that one tends to apply the western model of development in our context, he said adding that those in politics should join hands with the media to achieve common objectives and goals.

The Speaker of the Assembly, Ishwar Das Rohani, said the media in this country commands 100 per cent credibility and people do react to what is reported. He said the media should adopt a balanced approach and avoid negative reporting. It should also concentrate more on rural reporting, he added.

The former Madhya Pradesh Chief Secretary, K.S. Sharma, said the media has always fulfilled its role. Mentioning the days of Emergency, when the press was gagged, he said there were so many brave journalists who refused to bend under pressure. Again, by raising the Bofors issue and by focussing attention on the electricity crisis and the problem of roads, the media had played an important role in building public opinion. The media helps in good governance, he said and added "if the politicians do not pay heed to criticism in the media, they do so at their own peril.''

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