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Vasundhara Raje interview: ‘I have worked very hard, will not use Congress as benchmark’

As Rajasthan goes to polls later this year, Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje is seeking people's mandate during her 40-day 'Rajasthan Gaurav Yatra' that was flagged off in Rajsamanand district on Saturday by BJP president Amit Shah.

Written by Deep Mukherjee | Jaipur |
Updated: August 7, 2018 9:00:35 am
Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje (File photo)

As Rajasthan goes to polls later this year, Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje is seeking people’s mandate during her 40-day ‘Rajasthan Gaurav Yatra’ that was flagged off in Rajsamanand district on Saturday by BJP president Amit Shah. In an interview with Deep Mukherjee in Dungarpur, she speaks on the government’s achievements, the Congress’s claims of lack of development under BJP rule in the state, prospects of an anti-BJP alliance and poll issues. Excerpts:

What are your top three poll issues?

In the past five years, we have become more women centric. It’s the women that I have to strengthen because if the women get strengthened then the families get strengthened… So, the first issue is education and women empowerment. The second issue is health. The third issue is finally being able to set yourself up through either jobs or self employment. Who could have imagined that a state which was 26th as far as education is concerned will be number two in the country four years later? It doesn’t take time to change. It just requires the willpower. First of all, we need to recognise the work we have done and the work we need to do to continue with the progress… and of course, letting people know that in 40 years of rule, what was given to the people.

READ | Give ‘hisab’ of what Congress did for four generations, Amit Shah tells Rahul Gandhi

On governance, AT&C (aggregate technical and commercial) losses in electricity are still at 24.4 per cent. The target was 16 per cent…

We may have targeted so but from 40 (per cent) loss to 24 is a huge change… we had set a very difficult target for which we are working. That’s what we eventually want it to get down to, 20 percent.

BJP President Amit Shah with Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje wave at their supporters during a public meeting to start ‘Suraj Gaurav Yatra’ at Charbhuja on Saturday, Aug 4, 2018. (PTI Photo)

What are your comments on the poll prospects of the Congress and their allegations on anti-incumbency? They have started a campaign to ask the government one question every day during your 40-day-long yatra.

Why didn’t they answer all these questions 40 years ago, they had 40 years! It’s so sad, it’s really sad. Why are we wasting time on this? They should have worked in the field. If they had done this 40 years ago, they wouldn’t have to ask these questions. I think it’s worthwhile asking the public (about poll prospects of the Congress). Why bother to make any comments?

Also read | Village decked up for Vasundhara Raje’s 3rd visit, villagers recount woes

Do you think a grand alliance by political parties can stop the BJP in states?

These things don’t happen just like that. It’s not a joke.

The BJP president spoke about the issue of NRC in Assam at his recent rally in Rajasthan…

Let’s stick to the state.

Rajasthan Assembly Election 2018: Amit Shah launches BJP's campaign, Raje sets off on 'Rajasthan Gaurav Yatra' Raje performs rituals in front of the customised tour bus in Jaipur, Friday (Express Photo/Rohit Jain Paras)

Has the BJP in Rajasthan changed its strategy after its defeat in the recent bypolls?

We are proceeding exactly according to our own strategy as it was before and as it is after. It continues because we are concentrating on our oaths, we are concentrating on the lowest denominating factor, because that’s where it begins.

Will there be any mention of cow vigilantism among election issues?

Let’s not get to election issues because there is a long time. I have commenced on this wonderful yatra, am seeing what the issues are. For four and a half years, I have worked very hard to get these schemes in place and have been very ably supported by my whole team. I am actually out to see what I have done, because we are not going to use the Congress as a benchmark for us… I don’t think we should get into that (cow vigilantism). As I had said in a recent interview with a TV channel, there are so many people, so many jobs need to keep them occupied. These are different issues…. there are social issues of importance. I promised 15 lakh jobs and have done it.

BJP President Amit Shah with Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje during a public meeting to start ‘Suraj Gaurav Yatra’ at Rajasamand on Saturday, Aug 4, 2018. (PTI Photo)

Tell us something about your rural housing scheme. What have you done differently?

I am not comparing myself to other states…How do I know what they have and what they haven’t. We just expect to meet the targets. Our collectors and officers are working to achieve them. In most of our cases they have done well. If we are looking at Rajasthan’s history, what we have done is set targets and they are all regularly monitored and because of that monitoring, we have been able to meet the benchmarks. So, I believe that makes the difference. Today the difference that you see is there are people who are beneficiaries, actual beneficiaries, who are standing up and saying, yes we are beneficiaries.

You had taken out two similar yatras in the past as well, in 2003 and 2013.

The first yatra was about getting to know each other. The second one was about after seeing what progress the Congress had made, which was zero… It was important to understand, and make them understand that progress cannot be stopped. We gave 40 years away and we don’t intend to give any more time. In 40 years, so much could have been done, which wasn’t. The third yatra is about telling them that we actually did it, we achieved it and if we can achieve this, which is the simple first layer, we will achieve the next and the next one too.

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