Rajasthan could see a 2004 like scenario after the coming Lok Sabha elections, when Congress rode back to power after eight years out of office, Deputy chief minister of that state Sachin Pilot said here Sunday. “Most certainly, the Congress can ride back to power as it did in 2004 after being out of power for eight years.
There is no way that the BJP will be able to hold on to some 100 seats in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh because the performance of their state and central governments is far from satisfactory,” he said at “The Huddle,” a thought conclave held by ‘The Hindu’ here.
Pilot said Indian politics is unpredictable as nobody knew that the late Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee would lose by just one vote. “Likewise, nobody thought that the Congress would come back and form the government in 2004,” he added. Pilot said that the Indian electorate is sophisticated and sometimes politicians misread and underestimate the competence of voters.
“As many as 130 crore people have been watching for the last four years and have been asking questions and getting no answers. It won’t be surprising if the mighty BJP has a fantastic fall,” he said. Pilot said that BJP talks of nationalism, mandir-masjid, ghar wapsi and love jihad, but is silent on issues, including food prices and national security. He also said that never before had various institutions in the country been ‘devalued’ like under the BJP.
“There is a deliberate and conscious effort in the last four years to devalue institutions. It will have far reaching consequences,” he added.
Asked if Priyanka Gandhi’s entry into politics would be a game changer, Pilot said that even before she officially took charge, there was a sense of insecurity in BJP. “She is just the general secretary of the Congress, not a Chief Minister or Governor. Why is it causing so much heartburn for the BJP? The political uncertainty it has caused is telling me that they have a reason to fear,” he said.
On BSP and SP ignoring Congress to form an alliance in Uttar Pradesh for the coming Lok Sabha polls, Pilot said nothing was static in politics and the party was likely to perform better than 2009 in the state. “Uttar Pradesh is very critical in the next Lok Sabha elections as it has 80 seats, but the narrative needs to change,” Pilot said. “People are willing to give the mandate to the Congress. We will do well, much better than the other parties,” he said.
Asked if Congress supported a woman Dalit Prime Minister, Pilot said the party is pro-women and pro-Dalit, but winning adequate number of seats decides leadership issues. “There has been no Prime Minister from the Gandhi family for the past 35 years, so it is wrong to say Rahul Gandhi is doing this to become one. Congress has an equal presence in both northern and southern India,” he said. Moreover, BJP, which was in power in the cow belt had now lost three states and there is a political messaging that is symbolic of things to come, he added.
Asked what was the Congress’ vision for the coming Lok Sabha elections, Pilot said the party manifesto would not be a book of ‘jumlas’ and various details, including the promise of universal basic income, wherever applicable, would be placed before the people in the beginning of March. “Mr Chidambaram is preparing the manifesto. At the end of the month, we will have the draft of what Congress wants to do. I promise you it would not be a book of jumlas. Mr Rahul Gandhi has already promised universal basic income for entire country wherever applicable. Details will be out very soon in the beginning of March,” he said.
Pilot said India is an aspirational country and young people want a level playing field and opportunities.