‘INDIA bloc will surprise’

Congress politician Sachin Pilot became the youngest MP in India at the age of 26. In 2004, he won the Dausa Lok Sabha seat, earlier represented by his father late Rajesh Pilot, a veteran Congress leader.

‘INDIA bloc will surprise’

(File Photo)

Congress politician Sachin Pilot became the youngest MP in India at the age of 26. In 2004, he won the Dausa Lok Sabha seat, earlier represented by his father late Rajesh Pilot, a veteran Congress leader. Pilot has represented the Tonk Assembly seat in Rajasthan since 2018. He has also served as the MoS Corporate Affairs & MoS Communication & IT, Deputy Chief Minister of Rajasthan and also President of the Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee (RPCC).

The AICC General Secretary is currently incharge of Chhattisgarh. Simple in nature, non-prejudiced, visionary and responsive to every call of the party, Pilot decided to campaign even for Vaibhav Gehlot, son of his party rival and former Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, in Jalore Constituency which will go to polls on April 26. Despite his busy poll schedule, Pilot spoke with Dr Yash Goyal of The Statesman on a range of issues. Excerpts:

Q: What are the prospects of Congress in Chhattisgarh this time? In the last LS polls, the Congress had won two out of 11 seats. How much will your election campaign management and efforts yield this time?


A: We have had a very good campaign. We could have formed a government after the last Assembly polls since the vote share difference between the Congress and the BJP was just 1.5 per cent. We are strong on every seat. The new government in Chhattisgarh has not been able to live up to the expectations of the people. A 10-year report card of BJP is a talking point. People will vote for a change. They are under-performing in governance. The Congress is in a very good position to secure a larger mandate.

Q: What were the reasons for Congress’ defeat in last year’s Assembly poll in Chhattisgarh ?

A: As I said, the Congress lost by a small margin of 1.5 per cent. We had a lot of discussions and interpretations after losing the state at the party level. Former Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel had done good work. Somehow, the BJP worked on its propaganda, and we were not able to win. This election is different and larger than the Assembly polls. The INDI alliance and the Congress are strong enough to give some unexpected results in LS-2024.

Q: Whenever you go to field for Congress’ campaign anywhere, including Rajasthan, you get an overwhelming responses and love. People want to hug you and take selfies. No other leader, even the former CMs, have this adulation. You always get tremendous followers and likes on social media. What is the secret behind it?

A. I am thankful for the excellent support from my followers and people of the country. It is also linked with Congress workers who get motivated. I always try to make a live connect with workers and common people. I believe in politics, you have to be available to the people. We have to connect with the masses. Grassroot politicians have to mix with the public and keep this in their mind and heart. This is necessary for every politician.

Q: Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra (BJY) was an excellent way to reach the people in farflung areas of the country from Kanyakumari to Kashmir but that did not translate into votes for the party in the November Assembly polls. You also accompanied him to important places. Why did this happen?

A: Actually, BJY was not meant for the election to be held after the beginning of his (Rahul Gandhi’s) Yatra. Remember, the Congress had registered victories in Karnataka and Telangana. Yatra was really a voice of the people who were left out of the mainstream. There were poor, backward, workers, labourers, SC/ST people, men/women, boys/girls and they got very well connected to the BJY. People who were not heard in the BJP government … people (who) have been struggling, the BJY brought peace and harmony to them. Both of Rahul’s yatras were successful and historic. They were well received. The people of India have now seen the strength of the party and assessed how much it can deliver to people.

Q: Do you think the second leg of the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra of Rahul Gandhi would yield positive results for the party in the ongoing Lok Sabha polls?

A: I think beyond the yatra also. People are fed up with 10 years of BJP’s misrule, they want change. People can see through the BJP’s media propaganda, money power, and, do not forget, the blatant misuse of investigating agencies by the Government of India against the Opposition parties and their leaders.

Q: The Congress has been alleging that the BJP led NDA government misused/abused the investigating agencies like ED, CBI and IT against the Opposition leaders and elected representatives. The Modi government is being blamed for ‘murder ing’ democracy and the Opposition alleges that it (is) is going to amend the Indian Constitution, if voted to power for the 3rd time. How do you look at this?

A: Look at the BJP, they want a stronger mandate in the ongoing polls. No BJP leader has actually countered their party’s action. I wonder! Some BJP leaders said publicly that they want to change the Constitution. No one denied this. People generally say that despite the 10 years of full majority government, they did not deliver to farmers, unemployed youth, and women, and they could not meet the challenges like inflation.

Q: Will the Opposition parties, including the Congress, get sympathy over the ED/CBI/IT raids on their leaders in the elections?

A: You (BJP) are using the agencies, you are arresting and sending CMs to jails. You are suffocating the voice of Opposition leaders. People will respond. Congress along with INDIA bloc partners will definitely talk about all this in the elections.

Q: Do you assess that the INDI alliance is united and will fight forcefully against the ruling party?

A: Absolutely, we are united. We have strong leaders in different states. Congress is the largest party. We will deliver in the fight. INDI alliance partners are working on issues, not for personal gains. What role will be played by which party, who will become the leader, who will be the main actor, all this will be decided after winning the elections. Today, our aim is to defeat the NDA led by the BJP. INDIA bloc is as strong as ever.

Q: Will the bloc challenge the BJP’s slogan of ‘Abki Baar, 400 Paar’?

A: That is their prediction. It is not our way to contest the election. One should be humble and well connected to the masses. It shows their arrogance. Q: Is Congress going to shatter the BJP’s dream of a hat-trick in Rajasthan by winning all 25 LS seats ? A: The time has changed. Response can be seen in the public crowd in the ongoing election rallies and meetings, as the majority is with us. We will do much better than before (2014 & 2019 LS polls). BJP is on the back foot. The Congress is going to secure more seats in Rajasthan.

Q: Four senior Congress candidates publicly stated in meetings that they did not want to contest the election, but the party compelled them to do so in Rajasthan. Why could the party not find its own 25 candidates and had to forge an alliance with CPI-M, Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP), and Bharatiya Adivasi Party (BAP) candidates ?

A: It was not only in the Congress alone, many BJP candidates have also given back their tickets. A few BJP MPs have refused to contest the polls in the state. When there is a big election challenge, this kind of response is expected or inevitable due to hundreds of reasons. A public statement from a few Congress candidates will not affect the party’s prospects in the state. We are fighting together for all 25 seats (with three INDI alliance partners). We are safe on the seats and will win more seats than the BJP.

Q: A few young people, specially from National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), were given tickets to contest polls in the state. Did you play any role in their selection?

A: I have always supported young people, even in the Assembly polls last year. In this election also, I did as much as I could do. The young people should come to the forefront. This is Congress policy to project and support young people. I am one of those people who have openly supported this very decision of the party.

Q: Recently, the BJP was openly criticising the Congress’ manifesto ‘Nyay Patra’, and even the Prime Minister in his Pushkar rally remarked that the Congress’ manifesto has the impression of the Muslim League. Can you comment ?

A: Ours is Nyay Patra giving five guarantees at hand besides 25 others, if voted to power. Whatever the PM is saying was in sheer desperation and to polarise the mandate before election day.