Forty-four-year-old Arun Yadav is a two-term Lok Sabha member of Parliament and was a minister in Manmohan Singh's UPA-2 government. He is contesting against sitting Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan from the high profile Budhni Vidhan Sabha constituency in Sehore district. Considered by many as a soft candidate given that Chouhan is a sitting five-time MLA from the constituency considered to be his home turf. In an exclusive interview with Business Standard amid a hectic campaign, Yadav discounted the criticism that he was an outsider in Budhni and exuded the confidence of causing a big upset on December 11. Edited excerpts.
With just a few days left for the campaigning to end, how do you see this campaign of yours, given that you are contesting against the sitting chief minister?
You see, we are fighting against someone who has looted the state for the last 15 years, has looted Maa Narmada through illegal sand mining and is involved in corruption.
Some people have dubbed you as a light-weight candidate in the front of the sitting chief minister and believe that you have been sent here as a compromise candidate for the Congress. Do you think you will able to get the support to overthrow the incumbent chief minister?
Yes. People are supporting me and they want to vote for change in Budhni.
Who stopped them. I’m here because of my boss (Rahul Gandhi). My boss ordered me to go and fight. So, here I am and I will win.
What are the issues in Budhni which you are raising with people?
Corruption of the highest level, illegal sand mining, farmer suicides and youth unemployment.
You have been tagged as an outsider in Budhni while Shivraj is a local. Does this bother you?
No, nobody is saying this. This is BJP propaganda. The common man is not saying this.
The sitting chief minister is so confident of winning from Budhni that he wasn’t willing to campaign in Budhni. Have you managed to change that?
Yes. The whole Chouhan family is here and in some time you will see the chief minister himself campaigning here.
What do you think are Congress’ overall prospects this time now that just a few days are left for the campaigning to end?
We are coming back to power.
Suppose you come back, will you be a compromise candidate for chief ministership?
No, no. I am not in the race for chief ministership.
So what according to you will turn the tide in favour of Congress in MP? Will it be anti-incumbency, anger against Shivraj Singh Chouhan, note ban, or GST?
All issues will work in favour of Congress. However, I personally feel that the strong resentment of farmers against the ruling regime both in Centre and state is the biggest poll issue in MP this time.