In the 2018 assembly polls, the Congress had won 114 seats, BJP 109 seats and seven seats had gone to others.
Sachin Pilot has been campaigning aggressively for Congress contestants in the assembly elections in Rajasthan scheduled for November 25. An icon of the young brigade, the young turk carved a niche for himself in the Rajasthan politics and built an identity within the Congress amid many controversies in the past five years. Once an archrival of the three-time chief minister, Ashok Gehlot, is now struggling for ‘party unity and victory’ not only in Rajasthan but also in Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh as a star campaigner.
Taking time off his busy schedule, Sachin Pilot gave an exclusive interview to Yash Goyal. During the interview, he poured his heart out with short but crisp answers to each of the queries posed to him. Excerpts…
Q. What makes you confident that the Congress government would repeat?
A. There is conflict, disunity, and lack of prominent leadership in the state BJP. The governments that were formed in Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka, the vision that we had projected were accepted by the people and are being accepted here in Rajasthan too. The plus point with us is that we are contesting elections together.
There has been a trend among the voters of Rajasthan for the last 15 years to elect the Congress and the BJP alternately. But this time around, people want to change this tradition by voting for Congress in the ongoing assembly polls.
Q. What’s the public reaction to your whirlwind electioneering across the state despite contesting from the Tonk assembly seat? How many constituencies have you covered so far?
A. We are contesting elections unitedly without any differences. I have joined most of the meetings of Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. The public response has been overwhelming and I have covered 55 out of 200 constituencies.
Q. BJP has not yet zeroed in on a CM face. Modi is portraying himself. Will it leave an impact on voters, or not?
A. Till 2018 assembly polls, BJP has always declared a chief ministerial candidate before elections. Contrast this with the elected Congress legislators electing their leader and the party high command merely taking a decision on their resolution. This will happen in four other states where elections are due.
There is tension and disunity in the BJP, Congress will benefit from it.
Q. In his election campaign, Modi repeatedly says it is Modi’s guarantee. How then will seven guarantees of the Congress prevail in the minds of the public?
A. Only the one who remains in power will guarantee the state. The local government gives the guarantee. Let them keep trying their speeches, I don’t think what they say will make any difference in the minds of the public who know the value of each vote.
Q. Don’t you think Modi is preparing for his Lok Sabha 2024 polls, that is why the emphasis is on Modi’s face and not that of the CM in the state assemblies?
A. Everyone in the BJP is busy in elections 24 hours. However, they (the BJP) will prepare for 2024 only after seeing the election results in five states. This time, only Congress will form the government. The INDIA bloc will emerge strong. We are contesting the elections together. Congress is necessary for the country. There is no unity in BJP.
Q. You were the PCC president in the last elections in 2018. The government of the Congress could be formed due to your hard work. Even now you are engaged in the election campaign at the same pace. Is there any difference in the public response then and now?
A. I do not feel any difference whether I hold a post or not. Posts will come and go. Our collective leadership is in elections. The elections are being fought together. Responsibility will be decided after winning the elections. Ultimately, the aim of all of us is to win the elections and get repeated in the government.
Q. BJP leaders, mainly PM Modi and Amit Shah, used to comment on Congress leaders/ministers in the Gehlot Government. How do you feel?
A. They come, they go. They come for publicity. Here, the public trusts the state issues and state leaders and will vote accordingly.
Q. BJP leaders raised issues like paper leak, Kanhaiya Lal murder case, corruption, atrocities on women and Dalits and rape. Your comment…
A. They only try to divert public attention as they have no agenda for the future, nor did they have anything for Rajasthan in the last five years as an Opposition party.
Q. Will there be any impact of caste on the current voting pattern in this election too?
A. It will not cut any ice on the voting pattern. There are 8 crore people. The Congress takes along everyone regardless of caste. We are contesting the elections cutting across caste lines.
Q. Your claim is that the Congress government would repeat itself as the public made up its mind to change the trend of one time Congress, another BJP. How many seats do you expect from the 200 assembly seats?
A. Will get more majority than before (more than 100 seats won in 2018 assembly polls).