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Ashok Gehlot: ‘BJP is contesting Rajasthan LS style… poora dhawa bol rakha hai as they could not topple our govt’ | Political Pulse News


Aiming to buck the three-decade trend of alternating governments and hoping for his fourth term, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, 72, is leading the Congress party’s electioneering for the November 25 Assembly polls as it faces a formidable challenge from the Opposition BJP whose campaign is being spearheaded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Facing “anti-incumbency”, the Congress MLAs are banking on Gehlot’s welfare measures – and his face – to help them sail through, even as the CM has appealed to voters to see these elections as if he is contesting it on all 200 seats himself.

About 30 hours before the curtains come down on campaigning in the state and just before setting out to give one final push through another round of his whirlwind tours, Gehlot sits down at his residence in Jaipur for an interview with The Indian Express. Excerpts:

How many seats is the Congress going to win?

See, we have kept a target. Aayengi kitni ye samay batayega (How many seats we will get, only time will tell). In 1998, we won 156 seats when I was the PCC president. And now we have given a spectacular performance in Rajasthan, be it corona management, passing laws, and giving schemes or guarantees. An atmosphere of good governance has been created, so I said, “Mission 156”, and we are moving more and more towards it. Where we will stop, I can’t say.

There are many beneficiaries of various schemes but there is also uncertainty over the creation of a “beneficiary class”.

We are the one who give benefits. What the person taking the benefit thinks is up to him. We have left no stone unturned when it comes to performance. We have given a shandaar (excellent) performance and people are convinced of it. It is being discussed in villages and our schemes and benefits are reaching homes.

Festive offer

But the Rajasthan government’s debt to GSDP ratio has gone up to around 40%, which puts the state’s economy in a spot.

Without the permission of the Central government we can’t take loan of even Rs 1 lakh. And we are able to take loan on the basis of our performance and as per the set criteria. In terms of rate of our economic growth, which is 11.04%, we are first in North India and second among all the big states in the country, after Andhra Pradesh, where it is 11.4%.

When there was the BJP government in 2017, we were 30th in the country when it came to the per capita income. Today, we are 12th – that has been our achievement as Rajasthan’s per capita income has increased by 46.48%. And our dream is to become the first by 2030.

Then in 2020-21, our state GDP growth rate was 19.50%, the highest in a decade. In 2022, our food-grain production rate was double the national average at 8.10%. In the manufacturing sector, we were 12th during the BJP rule, now we are 7th. Due to people-friendly tax reforms, there was 24% increase in 2021-22 in revenue, the highest since 2013-14. So we have tried to share the benefits of a growing economy with the people.

BJP has no CM face this time around. Do you think it is benefiting the Congress?

It naturally helps. It is a Vidhan Sabha election, but you (BJP) are contesting it in Lok Sabha style. Central leaders are coming, there is PM Modi, Amit Shah ji, five Chief Ministers have come, 5-7 Union Ministers. Toh poora dhawa bol rakha hai Rajasthan pe (They have launched a full-scale offensive in Rajasthan) as they could not topple our government. So when they could not topple the government here while managing to topple governments in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and played foul in Goa and Manipur, toh sarkaar nahi girane ka dard chhipa hua hai inke dil ke andar (so the pain of not being able to topple the government is in their hearts) which keeps coming out time and again. Woh is liye dhawa bolte hain (Hence they’ve launched an offensive) on me, my family, PCC president and his family, and the government.

Ask them, is there anything lacking in our schemes? It is a state election and we worked for five years, so tell us our shortcomings. I challenge them to debate us on it.

In the last six months there have been raids on 51 locations by CBI, Income Tax, ED. Ask them, have you been able to pinpoint any politician or a bureaucrat (in connection with any case)?

You had said that the Congress will announce candidates two months in advance but there was a delay, and even then most sitting MLAs were repeated despite anti-incumbency. Why?

Option nahi hota (there is no option). First, the work is done for five years through MLAs, including in Panchayati Raj and Nagar Palika. And when the (local party) unit is set up, it is done through them. When everything is done through them, so naturally by the time elections come, woh he sab kuch hota hai wahan par (MLA becomes everything there). Although, this shouldn’t be the case. Ideally, (party) organisation should do organisation work and MLA should do MLA work. But unfortunately, the importance of an MLA increases in every political party. This time (in next government) we will try that MLA does MLA work and organisation does organisation work, this will be my thinking.

Apparently, there is unity between you and Sachin Pilot, but on the ground there still seems to be a lot of disagreement between your supporters.

I can’t say what kind of situation is in a particular area. But by and large we are trying to go into the campaign united.

Who will be the CM if the Congress returns to power?

I have said it many times that we have had a good tradition in the party – we pass a single line proposal. And high command also considers what the MLAs feel, what the common man thinks, and decides.

Priyanka Gandhi has been asking voters here not to be swayed by emotive issues while PM Modi accuses your government of “appeasement politics” and keeps mentioning Kanhaiya Lal’s murder.

They don’t have anything to say against us, hence they are doing politics to distract and are provoking people – when they shouldn’t. The kind of language Prime Minister is using, “press the button as if you are hanging (Congress)”. Ye kaunsi language hui (What kind of language is this)?

And Yogi ji (Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath) too employs such language for (conveying) other points. So the change in their language is a sign of their frustration. When you are staring at a loss, you are not as careful (with your words).

Why did Rahul Gandhi arrive so late for the Rajasthan campaign? He even went to Telangana before Rajasthan, though it votes after Rajasthan.

Mere pe vishwas tha unko (Rahul trusted me).

The BJP has made law and order an issue, especially crimes against women, while the Congress says that the numbers have increased mainly due to the mandatory registration of FIRs. Could this have been communicated better to the public?

The NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau) figures are brought by the Central government and if you take it, Rajasthan is better than other states. We would want that it becomes even better. Incidents happen in every state but the immediate action, which happens here doesn’t happen anywhere else.

What is happening in UP? There is no rule of law. Rajasthan not only has a rule of law but the compulsory FIR has had a huge impact. The court ordered cases through CrPC section 156 (3) are not even around 10% now as FIRs are being lodged now. This is a living example before us.

How much do you think the smaller parties would damage the prospects of the Congress candidates, especially in seats where the contest may go down to the wire?

See if our schemes, guarantees and laws have reached the homes then they (smaller parties) won’t be able to do any damage.





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