Rajasthan by-election verdict a vote for Congress: Sachin Pilot
In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the Congress drew a blank in the 25 seats in Rajasthan. On February 1, the party opened its account by winning two Parliamentary and one Assembly seat in the byelections. Rajasthan Congress chief Sachin Pilot speaks on the Rajasthan verdict and party’s revival in the State.
Do you think this was an anti-Vasundhara government vote or a pro Congress vote? What do you think worked more?
I don’t think it is easy to delineate it because it is a stinging verdict against the Vasudhara government and the total collapse of governance in Rajasthan. On the other hand, it is also the acceptance of the policies and the stands that the Congress party has taken over the years in Rajasthan.
To my mind, the by-election victory is not because of a two-week campaign that went in our favour. It’s been a sustained effort over months and years where we have been able to prove to the people of Rajasthan that we stand with them.
This by-election is indicative of the sentiments and the prevalent mood in Rajasthan where elections are due in eight months.
Why didn’t you contest from Ajmer your own seat?
I was made the party president four years ago and my single job was to revive the party. Don’t forget we got 21 MLAs out of 200 in the 2013 elections. We have never had such a debacle ever since Independence. At that point, the party was not in a great shape and my task was to rebuild it. So for four years that’s what I was doing. When the by-elections came, it was my responsibility that the party did well in them.
In Rajasthan, the Congress is unlikely to project a CM candidate to avoid factionalism. Will that be a disadvantage?
No, traditionally the Congress does not follow this name-projecting policy. There may be one or two aberrations. But only the elected MLAs will decide who will lead them. But what’s more important is that the BJP, which takes pride in this sort of name announcement — they have done this for Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka — have not announced whether Vasundhara ji will lead the charge in Rajasthan and be the chief ministerial face. That question is more pertinent to the BJP.
We will fight as a team and that’s always been the case in the Congress. Who becomes what is not important, as now is the time to give back to the Congress.
The Congress seems to have managed Rajput votes in these elections. Is that why you were silent on Padmavaat movie?
No, not at all. If any form of art, movie, drama, literature are hurting the sentiments of certain sections, we need to take cognisance of that. A year and a half ago when the movie was being made, Vasundhara ji government ignored all these problems. At that time the producers of the film and the people who were agitating could have been brought together and a middle ground could have been found.
The Congress is very clear in its stand. Anybody who takes the law into his own hands has to be dealt with in accordance to law. There is no ambiguity in our stand at all.
You had done a Kisan padyatra a few months ago. What do you think of the pro-farmer Budget?
They are trying to make this sound like a pro-farmer Budget. Why didn’t they make this four years ago? In the first Budget they gave corporates a waiver of two lakh crores. All this is being done because elections are so near. In the hinterland, the pushback for the BJP is huge and they realise the agrarian distress is going to cost them politically.
In political circles, there is talk about simultaneous Lok Sabha polls with States like Rajasthan. How will it play out for the Congress?
The corruption, farmer suicide, law and order breakdown in Rajasthan, the dismal governance. You can’t dent that anti-incumbency because you are seeking votes in the name of Parliament.
Not in the name of Parliament but in the name of the Prime Minister?
Yeah but who is responsible for the chaos in Rajasthan. They can do whatever they want but as the Congress chief, I can tell you it’s now out of their hands.
Courtesy- The Hindu, By Sandeep Phukan, FEBRUARY 05, 2018