Sachin Pilot has been the face of Rajasthan Congress as its state president and has taken on chief minister Vasundhara Raje and Bharatiya Janata Party on several fronts over the past five years.
Sachin Pilot has been the face of Rajasthan Congress as its state president and has taken on chief minister Vasundhara Raje and Bharatiya Janata Party on several fronts over the past five years. In a conversation with Hindustan Times, he spoke about the failure of the Raje government, the challenging times for the Congress after its debacle in the 2013 election (when it won a mere 21 of 200 assembly seats), the turnout and his expectations.
Q. There are still a few days left for polling; are you confident that outcome will be in the Congress’ favour?
A. We are getting huge response from people across Rajasthan. Our connect with people is visible, as they are coming out in large numbers to our election rallies from all communities and in both urban and rural areas. My sense is that we are seeing a sweeping change all across Rajasthan.
Q CM Vasundhara claims she has delivered results for Rajasthan. Do you agree?
A. No. She has failed on all counts. She came with two-thirds majority on account of tall promises. Bur, right from the beginning of her term on every single political challenge – zila parishad, local bodies, and assembly by polls — she has lost. The unrest that is so palpable is because of non delivery of promises. She promised so much and did not deliver.
Q. In your manifesto, you have all promised a lot, such as farm loan waiver, unemployment allowance and pensions to old farmers. How will you deliver on your promises?
A. No, we have been very clear. Our manifesto is not about giving money in everyone’s bank accounts. We have promised to invest in people. We will give every free education to every girl of Rajasthan from her first day in school to whatever level she wants to get educated. Education is not an expense but an investment. If the government or private employees can get pensions, why not a farmer who is old and has no social security? We have promised what is deliverable. We will generate resources and will distribute them equitably. Our promises are not outlandish.
Q. The BJP believes that banking on beneficiaries of its welfare schemes will deliver votes. Do you think that this is a right political strategy?
A. First thing is when Vasundhara (Raje) starts collecting people in grounds on public expenditure, it shows there is panic in the BJP ranks. The real beneficiaries of the BJP government are those living in London such as Lalit Modi, Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallaya. If she really wants to interact with beneficiaries, she should first get them back. When someone is getting pensions or scholarships or jobs, it is their right. They (the BJP) have created a weird demarcation for the first time in name of beneficiaries and divided the people to get them to rallies. Moreover, they did not allow them to exercise their democratic right to show dissent by preventing them from wearing black. I have never seen such a thing in Indian politics. They (BJP) is not doing favour to anyone by providing them facilities which they deserve. It is taxpayers money and it is their constitutional responsibility to provide them benefits. This is a new low.
Q. The BJP claims to have the data of 20 million families benefitting from Central and state government schemes. What do you have to say on this?
A. BJP has failed to differentiate between itself as a political party and the government. For them, it is interchangeable. A political party should do politics and not interfere in governance through political platform. Using government data and interfering in the government, does not bode well for our polity. They have started very bad precedent.
Q. Why do you think people will re-impose faith in the Congress?
A. Not only have we exposed the BJP, we have come to the people of Rajasthan with a blue-print, a positive development agenda and a future road map. We are not trying to give false promises . People have understood that it is the Congress which can look after weaker sections and create jobs. We hope to live up to their expectations.
Q. If the Congress loses, who will held accountable?
A. First of all, we are not losing. We have worked very hard for the last five years and we have done everything to keep alive people’s voices on streets of Rajasthan. When I took charge, the Congress had just 21 legislators and the cadre was demoralised. I am fortunate as party president to get support of every leader in the party. I did a 100 km yatra in CM’s constituency (Jhalrapatan), faced police lathis and got arrested. We worked hard to expose the BJP. Hopefully, we will not come to situation where we will lose.
Q. The BJP is making the Congress not declaring a chief minister candidate an election issue and are saying the your party is a divided house?
A. We have not declared CM candidate in any of the poll bound state. In 70 years in Rajasthan, we followed philosophy of collective leadership and have gone by the decision of legislators. The BJP is trying to hide its failures by trying to make it (no CM candidate) an election issue. We are taking everyone together and fighting as a team.
Q. Many people say that the Congress’s ability to manage rebels (those who did not get tickets to contest) is poor…
A. The BJP had two to four ticket aspirants for each constituency. We had 20-40 and there will obviously be some heartburn among those who lost out. We did not deny tickets to our sitting legislators. BJP denied tickets to so many and the rebellion there is huge. To divert attention, the BJP is spreading rumours about the Congress rebels. People in Rajasthan are smart. The momentum is with the Congress.
Q. Jat leader Hanuman Beniwal has floated his own party and is contesting in about 60 seats. How will this hurt Congress considering Jats have been Congress voters?
A. Politics is never static. It is revolving and is fluid. Mr Beniwal is former BJP legislator. Rajasthan is a biopolar state and small parties have a marginal role. It is a contest between the Congress and the BJP. He will damage the BJP more than us.
Q A battery of BJP leaders is in Rajasthan and attacking the Congress. What do you think about their campaign?
A. They will pack their bags and leave on evening of December 7 and will not return. I want to ask where they were for the last five years when Rajasthan faced floods, drought, farmer suicides and there were atrocities on Dalits and Tribals. They are just offering jumlas.
Q. The big issue in Rajasthan is jobs. How will you deal with the issue if the Congress comes to power?
A. I think we need a meeting of minds of academia and industry. The curriculum should be in alignment with what the corporate sector needs. We need courses that make our youngsters employable. Investors felt that in wake of mob lynchings, caste clashes and high crime rates, the atmosphere is not conducive to invest. Longevity of peace will attract investment. We will also handhold and provide freedom from inspector raj for investors, especially those from Rajasthan and doing business outside the state.
Source: Hindustan Times