NEW DELHI: In Rajasthan, the Congress pulled off a win in the local elections. This in a state with a BJP majority, and where the party had also won all the Lok Sabha seats. Of course the trajectory of Rajasthan shows a decisive vote in favour of either the BJP or the Congress where Parliament is concerned. However, given the communal violence---with the lynchings and the most recent macabre hacking of a migrant Bengali labourer by a man in Rajsamand who is being hailed by sections as a ‘hero’---the BJP had managed to project itself as invincible. But the recent civic polls gave Congress all four of the Zila Parishad seats, 16 of the 27 seats in Panchayat Samitis and seven of the 13 municipal wards. This is being hailed by the party as a victory. The Citizen caught up with Congress leader SACHIN PILOT for a quick interview.


How do you view your performance in the local polls?

This is a fair assessment of how the people of Rajasthan want a change, and are completely fed up with the (BJP) government in the state.

It seems to be communal politics versus development. Where does the Congress stand on this?

It is a vote against the BJPs attempts to divide society. The kind of incidents that have taken place in Rajasthan are intended to vitiate the atmosphere. These elections show that the people have no desire for all this, and have rejected the efforts to divide society.

But the Congress does seem a little hesitant, reluctant to speak out on issues of communal harmony?

Not at all. The Congress has taken a strong position, whether it is to do with justice for the Muslims or the Dalits or any other segment of society. We cannot and will not condone such violence and subversion of the Constitution and the law. The Chief Minister (Vasundhara Raje Scindia) says that justice will be done after every such violence, but we know that once the story moves out of the headlines, and disappears from public memory, no action against the guilty is taken.

As the Assembly elections approach, do you expect more such violence?

I hope not. And that the ruling party will be responsible, and will not sideline issues of development for such politics. There are fringe outfits that are trying to polarise society but I am sure that the people in this day and age will not accept this, and will reject the politics of divisiveness and hate. They will not let it succeed.

What in your mind are the big issues for the voters of Rajasthan?

Unemployment is the biggest issue. Agrarian distress is the other, with cash strapped farmers committing suicide, and finding it difficult to live. We need to create a new environment for growth and investment. The ruling party is not for development and change. It is only promoting an ideology through which it can put Deen Dayal Upadhyay’s photograph next to the Ashok Stambh. This government has a very different agenda from that of development.

The Congress has a better organisation in Rajasthan than it did in Gujarat, having been in government till recently. Sachin Pilot and former chief minister Ashok Gehlot have been working in Rajasthan with some consistency, and the organisation in the state has been responding well to this attention. The local results have come as a shot in the arm for the party, with the Congress in the state working fairly well without undue factionalism.