Why 12-yr-old Chhattisgarh is mature

Marking the 12th year of the formation of the state, the Chhattisgarh government recently held a Global Investors' Meet and signed 260 MoUs worth Rs 1.23 lakh crore — a major achievement, Chief Minister Raman Singh said. The actual amount under MoUs, however, is just Rs 66,462 crore, the remaining Rs 55,957 crore being mere 'expression of interest'.

While officers defend that both terms are sometimes used interchangeably, the fact is that in the nine years since he became CM, MoUs worth Rs 2 lakh crore have been signed but the actual investment realised has been around 10 per cent, or Rs 24,500 crore. By that ratio, just Rs 7,000 crore is likely to be invested of the present MoUs.

Still, Chhattisgarh should rejoice. Two more states were constituted in 2000 along with it, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand. All three had abysmal development indicators. Chhattisgarh, however, has left them behind in all spheres.

Yes, its famed GDP growth is driven by revenue from mining, steel and power projects, benefits of which are yet to reach people, while two of the prized claims of the government — computerised PDS and zero power cuts — falter at the ground. Some children continue to die of hunger even as there aren't ration shops for hundreds of square kilometres. Many villages are without electricity cables in several parts of tribal-dominated north and south Chhattisgarh, which also lack basic infrastructure like roads, schools and medicare. On top of it all are the continuing Naxal attacks.

Still, if the state has caught national attention, credit its residents. They have given a polity few states enjoy. Electoral majority does not necessarily mean government stability, but Chhattisgarh has seen just two chief ministers in 12 years. Only one case of defection, that too during 2003 polls, and no attempt of overthrowing a government in all this time. Politics is not shrill, opposition Congress never launches vitriolic attacks and the ruling BJP is not sharply communal.

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