High polling in phase 1 favourable for Congress: Pilot

With the conclusion of the first phase of polling in Rajasthan, state Congress president and Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot is confident of sweeping most of the 25 seats. (DH Photo)

With the conclusion of the first phase of polling in Rajasthan, state Congress president and Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot is confident of sweeping most of the 25 seats. Excerpts of his interview with Tabeenah Anjum of Deccan Herald:

As the state Congress president, how do you see this 68.5% record polling?

Polling has been high despite the heat. People have come out and voted in huge numbers. As far as the increase in the voting percentage is concerned, there are two reasons for that: in five years, the population has increased and since Assembly elections just got over, election hysteria is still in people's minds. 

Congress has formed the government in Rajasthan. What are its chances in Lok Sabha?

We had only three months of government formation in Rajasthan and I think we have taken some great steps. The manifesto has become the official government document. People will support the Congress.

What is Congress thriving on in Rajasthan?

The day Vasundhara ji's govt left office, till December 17, there were nine lakh people enrolled under NREGA. But after Congress took over, by April 1, as many as 30 lakh people have been enrolled. Also, we have NYAY which will benefit crores of the population with Rs 72,000. Congress has also made the biggest commitment by dedicating 6% GDP for education.

So why do BJP leaders call it ANYAY?

 See if anybody is anti-BJP, he or she is portrayed anti-national. In our country, underemployed, Dalit and women are facing the brutality of government forces. Through NYAY, we at Congress are promising Rs 300,00,00 for 25 crore people. Also for this elections, social equity, helping the poor, opening entrepreneurship to young people, creating wealth and wealth for down root is our agenda.  

This Lok Sabha polls is conceived as Modi versus candidates? Is there a Modi wave in Rajasthan?

Not at all. This time no propaganda will overrule here. In southern states, they are bound to have a setback. In Hindi heartland, where we have bipolar politics, we are confident of achieving good numbers.  

BJP is scoring brownie points on Balakot airstrike. Is that a threat to Congress as Rajasthan is a border state?

When Indira Gandhi was PM, under her leadership 1971 war was fought. She defeated Pakistan and two countries were formed from one. But she never sought votes on behalf of the action conducted by armed forces. Parties will win or lose, people will come and go but the respect for armed forces will always stay in our hearts.

BJP has accused Congress of compromising with country's security and taking a soft stand against Pakistan and terrorism.

This is a perception formed by BJP. When Soniaji was the leader of the opposition and the Parliament attack took place, she told then PM Atal Behari Vajpayeeji that, "Parliament stands with you, take action against them as they have hit the temple of our democracy". Such statements are needed to maintain sanctity. 

The opposition is accusing Congress of using slogans such as 'Chowkidar Chor Hai'. What do you have to say to this?

We want investigations to be held if there is corruption. When defaulters left the county under PM's watch, we are compelled to say this. And when it comes to them, the language is unbecoming of the ruling party.

In Assembly polls, Congress managed 100 out of 200. How many MP seats will you get out of 25?

 Reaching from 21 seats to 101 seats was a 12 % swing, the highest ever.  I am confident that people will vote for Congress.

Opposition often takes a jibe at Congress by calling it a divided house in Rajasthan?

It is the other way round. The BJP does not have any leaders in the state at present. They have shunted Vasundhara Ji to the centre. In the ongoing polls, she had been minimised to Jhalawar and few other constituencies. Whereas in Congress, Ashok Gehlot Ji is the CM and I am the Party president and Deputy CM we both are doing our work. 

If Congress forms government in the Centre, would you like to take up a new role in New Delhi?

I was asked to be party president over five years ago and I am doing that. Later, I was made Deputy CM. At present, my objective is to get as many seats possible. 

Do you see any change of guard in Rajasthan post-Lok Sabha polls?

It is too difficult to comment on that. We just formed the government and we all are working to win LS elections.

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