Hindustan Times (Bathinda) - - Front page -

Ra­jasthan Congress chief Sachin Pi­lot is up­beat over the party’s prospects af­ter its vic­to­ries in by­polls (two LS seats and one as­sem­bly seat) in the state and says the tide is turn­ing in favour of the Congress across In­dia. In an in­ter­view to HT, Pi­lot said the peo­ple of Ra­jasthan have given a be­fit­ting re­ply to di­vi­sive forces.

Ra­jasthan Congress chief Sachin Pi­lot , 40, is up­beat over the party’s prospects af­ter its vic­to­ries in by-elec­tions (to two Lok Sabha seats and one as­sem­bly seat) in the state and says the tide is turn­ing in favour of the Congress across In­dia. Pi­lot’s op­ti­mism is un­der­stand­able — his party broke a four-decade long tra­di­tion of no op­po­si­tion party win­ning by-polls in the state. In an in­ter­view to Au­rangzeb Naqsh­bandi, Pi­lot said the peo­ple of Ra­jasthan have given a be­fit­ting re­ply to di­vi­sive forces and that a rain­bow coali­tion with the Congress as a pivot is fea­si­ble and will cer­tainly de­feat the Bjp-led NDA in the next Lok Sabha elec­tions.

The re­cent vic­tory in by­elec­tions has given a big boost to the Congress in Ra­jasthan. What are the fac­tors that went against the rul­ing BJP?

Two things are clear. One is that there has been com­plete re­jec­tion of the Va­sund­hara Raje govern­ment and the BJP in Ra­jasthan. These elec­tions were held in three ge­o­graph­i­cally dif­fer­ent parts of the state — Al­war is in Na­tional Cap­i­tal Re­gion and part of east­ern Ra­jasthan, Ajmer is cen­tral part and Bhilwara is in south­ern side and we won in all the three re­gions and 17 as­sem­bly seg­ments. The BJP used money power and state ma­chin­ery but de­spite that our work­ers held their own. It is also the ac­cep­tance of the prin­ci­pled stand taken by the Congress on var­i­ous is­sues such as un­em­ploy­ment, agrar­ian dis­tress and cor­rup­tion. The BJP bla­tantly tried to po­larise and com­mu­nalise the by-elec­tions.

The as­sem­bly elec­tions are some months away and there is also spec­u­la­tion that the Lok Sabha polls could be ad­vanced. Would you be able to sus­tain the mo­men­tum till the next elec­tions?

We should re­mem­ber that af­ter Va­sund­haraji be­came chief min­is­ter, there were by-elec­tions to four as­sem­bly seats and Congress won three of them. We have done ex­ceed­ingly well in lo­cal bod­ies’ elec­tions, pan­chayat and zila par­ishad polls in the past four years. We don’t win elec­tions in the last two weeks of cam­paign. It is a sus­tained ef­fort and (takes) months and years of hard work.

The re­cent by-elec­tions have shown that the tide, sen­ti­ments and un­der­cur­rent are in favour of the Congress. Peo­ple across re­gions and com­mu­ni­ties are sup­port­ing the Congress. As far as the or­gan­i­sa­tion is con­cerned, we have been in elec­tion mode from day one.

It does not mat­ter when the elec­tions take place. We are ready and the peo­ple of Ra­jasthan are ready and we are def­i­nitely go­ing to form the next govern­ment in Ra­jasthan. We will work with double the hu­mil­ity and twice the strength and try to reach out to the peo­ple with mass con­tact pro­grammes that we are launch­ing very soon.

We saw a par­tial re­vival of Congress in Gu­jarat but one of the rea­sons iden­ti­fied for the grand old party’s in­abil­ity to dent the BJP’S sup­port base was the lack of a cred­i­ble face as its leader in the state. In Ra­jasthan, that doesn’t seem to be a case. Should the Congress an­nounce its chief min­is­te­rial can­di­date ahead of the polls to clear any con­fu­sion on the lead­er­ship is­sue?

Tra­di­tion­ally, the Congress party has not an­nounced the names of chief min­is­te­rial can­di­dates in any state bar­ring few ex­cep­tions. We be­lieve in fight­ing the elec­tions as a joint team. Peo­ple are en­dors­ing the Congress party’s stand on dif­fer­ent is­sues. But this ques­tion is more per­ti­nent to BJP which has not an­nounced Va­sund­haraji as its CM can­di­date in Ra­jasthan in con­trast to Mad­hya Pradesh, Ch­hat­tis­garh and Kar­nataka where they have al­ready (an­nounced chief min­is­te­rial can­di­dates) .

But to en­sure its vic­tory in up­com­ing elec­tions, the Congress needs to set its house in or­der in the state. The by­polls saw the party fight­ing as one unit. Have you been able to ad­dress the is­sue of in­fight­ing to some ex­tent?

The so-called talk of in­fight­ing in Congress is a pro­pa­ganda spread by the BJP. The Congress is strong and united, was united and will al­ways re­main united. If we were not work­ing as a team, the party would not have per­formed so well in (the state) the past four years.

The Congress has been un­able to stem the elec­toral slide that set in just be­fore the 2014 Lok Sabha elec­tions and Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi re­mains the most pop­u­lar leader in the coun­try. Is Rahul Gandhi an al­ter­na­tive to Modi and can he be a face of the united op­po­si­tion in next LS elec­tions?

Congress is the only party that can chal­lenge the BJP na­tion­ally. There are other par­ties which have com­pet­ing in­ter­ests with Congress in cer­tain states. The ag­gres­sive stand taken by Mr Gandhi by chal­leng­ing the mo­tives and ac­tions of the rul­ing BJP, hold­ing them ac­count­able and tak­ing them on fear­lessly has gal­vanised not only the Congress party but the op­po­si­tion as well. In the last few months, Mr Gandhi’s ag­gres­sion, his ques­tions to the govern­ment on var­i­ous is­sues be it jobs, cor­rup­tion, defence deals, agrar­ian cri­sis, etc, has strength­ened the op­po­si­tion camp. In the time to come, you will see a rain­bow coali­tion with Congress as the pivot. We have to think of the na­tional in­ter­est and ev­ery­one has to sit down to­gether to form that rain­bow coali­tion for the next Lok Sabha elec­tions.

Do you think that is pos­si­ble given that in the past, the op­po­si­tion par­ties have never come to­gether on one plat­form?

All the po­lit­i­cal par­ties that are against the poli­cies of the BJP govern­ment have to come to­gether at the na­tional level…. we and they all have to unite. Third fronts and fourth fronts that you talk about have not worked but as long as the Congress re­mains the pivot and other par­ties come on that plat­form I think that sort of a coali­tion is cer­tainly fea­si­ble. But the ques­tion is of the NDA. The BJP has parted ways with Shiv Sena; the TDP is on the verge of walk­ing out and even other al­lies (are not happy). De­spite be­ing in govern­ment, the BJP has been un­able to hang on to its own al­lies.

What are the is­sues on which the Congress will go to the peo­ple in next gen­eral elec­tions?

The BJP govern­ment came to power in 2014 promis­ing the moon and have now , be­lat­edly, in their last full bud­get come up with some­thing that is al­legedly pro-farmer. Had they been sym­pa­thetic to the farm­ers, this govern­ment would have come up with some­thing in its first bud­get it­self. They had given a lot of slo­gans whether get­ting back black money, job cre­ation, in­creas­ing farm­ers’ in­comes, im­prov­ing econ­omy and in­vest­ments but on the ground the ex­e­cu­tion is al­most zero. Congress party will go to the peo­ple of In­dia with a blue­print of what the BJP had failed to do and what we stand for. This govern­ment is not the one that has made the com­mon peo­ple stake­hold­ers, or lived up to its prom­ises. The peo­ple are look­ing for a govern­ment that ac­tu­ally de­liv­ers as op­posed to giv­ing as­sur­ances and prom­ises. Speeches and stage man­age­ment is not what the peo­ple of this coun­try want.


Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.