The Rajasthan Chief Minister said his party’s governance infrastructure will help them withstand the aggressive BJP campaign in the state.
The Bharatiya Janata Party will communalise the upcoming Rajasthan assembly elections, and it won’t work, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said, claiming that the strategy failed in Karnataka — where Congress registered an emphatic victory — and it will fail in the western state as well. The Chief Minister, in an exclusive interview with NDTV, raised his pitch on a national social security act to highlight his “welfare model” of governance, which he hopes will help the party retain power. The grand old party had focussed on welfare schemes in Karnataka as well, many of which were slammed as ‘revdi’ (freebies) by top BJP leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“They (BJP) will try to win over people by communally sensitive statements,” he claimed.
“Whether PM Modi or Amit Shah…they raise slogans in the name of religion…none of that will work this time. It didn’t work when they mentioned Bajrang Bali in Karnataka. That was very wrong. I had demanded the election commission stop PM Modi from campaigning. This is a kind of crime,” Mr Gehlot said. “It’s in their nature, they can do anything,” he added when asked whether it will happen in Rajasthan as well.
The Rajasthan Chief Minister said his party’s governance infrastructure will help them withstand the aggressive BJP campaign in the state this time. Mr Gehlot has repeatedly stressed the several welfare schemes — he says there are almost 10 — which his government recently launched, are not election focussed, but meant to serve people in the long term. Rajasthan has had a rotational system — BJP and Congress winning alternate elections — for most of the last four decades.
“I believe we will win based on our governance in the last five years, and how we have worked on issues like infrastructure, education, health, water, the welfare of daughters, or roads — 1 lakh km of roads will be built in Rajasthan, and 56,000 km have already been completed,” the chief minister said. We are giving pensions to one crore people, he added.
Bullish on his welfare pitch, Mr Gehlot said he has requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to bring a national social security legislation similar to Rahul Gandhi’s Nyay scheme, and four laws passed by former PM Manmohan Singh and former party chief Sonia Gandhi — Right to Information (RTI), Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), National Food Security Act, and The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act.
On his spat with his former deputy Sachin Pilot, he said he doesn’t want to comment on it yet as whatever he says might be misunderstood.
“Recently, in Delhi, we spoke to each other, monitored by Rahul Gandhi, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, KC Venugopal, and Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa. I wouldn’t like to talk about it right now. When we have sat down to talk once, if I now say something it might be misunderstood,” he said, requesting to stop asking questions in the matter as it’s an “internal issue” of the party. He did, however, assure that he was ready even now to take action against former Chief Minister and BJP leader Vasundhara Raje — a demand repeatedly raised by Mr Pilot, who has accused the state government of going soft on her in corruption charges.
“All the allegations we made against her (Ms Raje) have been taken to the courts. I will act if someone, even a random individual, can point out what we have left pending,” he said.
Congress’s programs, principles, and policies can “save” this country, Mr Gehlot said, adding that whoever identifies with this belief will leave everything and focus on how to defeat these “fascist forces” who “don’t believe in democracy”.