Sachin Pilot on Why Congress Has an Upper Hand in Rajasthan
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Days after Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje’s ‘Gaurav Yatra’, and ahead of the state assembly elections later this year, the Congress party’s state President Sachin Pilot, spoke to The Quint.
‘Vasundhara Raje Squandered Away Her Mandate’
In a scathing critique, Pilot said of the incumbent Rajasthan government:
It is believed that there is a strong sense of anti-incumbency on ground. So is it Modi who will have to step in to salvage Raje’s government?
There is no Modi wave as such. People were fooled once in 2014. But we’ve had assembly by-elections in 22 constituencies in the last 4 years, and the Congress party has won 20 of those 22 constituencies. Every by-election, the Congress has won and not just MLA and MP but even local-body elections, panchayat elections, zila parishad elections, corporation elections.People are disgruntled, people are unhappy, people are dissatisfied, because of the work Raje did not do.Sachin Pilot to The Quint
Pilot goes on to say, “So, today if Modi and Amit Shah go and campaign for the BJP in Rajasthan, they have to account for the last 4 and a half years of Vasundhara ji’s government. So it’s not easy to cover-up the misdeeds of Raje’s government and then ask for 5 more years. People have to know where the performance was.”
‘Raje Must Atone for Her Sins’
From the large turnout, it seems that Vasundhara Raje’s ‘Gaurav Yatra’ was a success. What are your thoughts on this?
This yatra that she is doing now is basically a face-saving exercise. As I keep saying, as opposed to ‘Gaurav Yatra’, Raje should have taken out a ‘Pashchatap Yatra’. She must atone for the sins she has committed as chief minister in the last 4 and a half years. And now Vasundhara ji, to counter the Congress’ work, is taking out this Gaurav Yatra, which is on government expense. It’s illegal, it’s immoral to use taxpayers’ money to do a political yatra. BJP is a rich party. Why is Vasundhara Raje not using the BJP’s money to organise meetings?
“Today, the Rajasthan government is paying for the tent, loudspeakers, for ferrying people, for all the expenses of the party meetings, which Amit Shah had launched. So I think they are misusing the taxpayers' money, and that too for political purposes. People are watching all this very carefully. And the people who are coming out to listen to Raje are not going to vote for her. They were brought there because the government machinery was fully deployed,” continued Sachin Pilot.
Congress Campaign on Ground
Is the Congress’ counter-narrative to Raje’s aggressive campaigns strong enough?
There was no BJP president for 2 and a half months in Rajasthan. At that time, we (Congress party) went to the rural parts of Rajasthan, and out of 200 constituencies, we had ‘mera booth, mera gaurav’ programmes in 196. 50,000 booths, booth workers identifying them, linking them to the ‘Shakti’ project, and really, giving them political tasks. That was done at the grassroots and the booth-level. That’s what we did in the summer.
Pilot added, “We (Congress) are doing ‘Sankalp’ rallies across Rajasthan. Rahul Gandhi came on 11 August and did a massive roadshow in Jaipur. We have a rally on 28 August and on 5, 10 and 12 September. So our campaign is fully on the ground.”
‘People Want a Change & That’s Where Congress Can Step In’
Is the Congress likely to fall into the trap of complacency in Rajasthan?
We are getting tremendous traction and without sounding immodest, I want to say that, I believe that the feedback we’ve gotten so far, the reactions, the attendance people have marked; young people in urban areas, rural areas are coming in hordes to show their faith in the Congress. So it’s a very positive indication, and I’m very confident that in December, when the elections happen, we’ll be able to secure a historic mandate.
Why should Rajasthan vote for the Congress?
150 farmers have committed suicide. For the first time in Rajasthan, so many farmers are killing themselves. And here, Raje is taking out Gaurav Yatras when women are getting raped, farmers are committing suicide, young people are jobless. So this sort of situation is untenable. People want a change, and they want a positive change. And that’s where I think the Congress party’s role is very, very crucial.
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