Rajasthan Congress chief SACHIN PILOT feels the results of the Assembly elections will have a bearing on the 2019 elections. He spoke to The Indian Express about the party’s performance in Rajasthan, the way ahead for an anti-BJP front and the party’s expectations. Excerpts:
Q. How do you see the results?
It is a clear mandate against the BJP. We will form the governments in all the three states – Rajsthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. We have a clear majority in Rajasthan and this is a verdict against Vasundharaji and the BJP, and also a vindication of what Rahul Gandhi and the Congress party stands for.
It is both. How can we detach one from the other. Modi and Vasundhara are both of the BJP. So it is a vote against the BJP, its rule in Delhi and in Jaipur.
Q. Will the result have a bearing on the 2019 Lok Sabha elections?
Absolutely. The three states were bipolar states where BJP and Congress were contesting head to head… They are losing all three. That means the writing is on the wall. The BJP and its allies will know that in 2019 they will not be able to form the government.
Q. The BJP banked on Modi’s charisma. And many argue the electorate would vote differently. This was a vote against the incumbent state government and 2019 could be different.
What charisma. Modi came to Dausa to end the campaign. The Congress has won four of the five seats in Dausa. They put every bit of effort, every ounce of energy and resources in Rajasthan in the last 10 days. And the results are there. They have lost almost a 100 seats where the party was in power five years ago. A Faridabad municipal election is a vindication of notebandi. And UP election when they win they say people have approved of demonetisation. And when they lose all five states today, then obviously it is a reflection on the BJP governments both at the Centre and in the states.
Q. The numbers were far lesser than your expectation. What went wrong?
Nothing went wrong. Don’t forget where we started from. We were 21 MLAs five years ago. We have increased our tally from 21 to over 100, a clear mandate.
Q. The expectation was that you will cross 140?
The expectation was because the mood was such. In five years, we have been winning every single by-election. So obviously our workers were quite motivated. This is a clear mandate. There was no confusion in the minds of the people. A clear mandate was what we were expecting and we got that. I thank the people, party leaders and Rahul Gandhi who led from the front.
Q. But there was problem in ticket distribution. A large number of rebels won.
I don’t think there was a problem. Every time, there are some independents and smaller parties. The BSP has got a few seats, CPM has got a few seats, local parties have got two or three seats. Every time 15-20 seats go to Independents and smaller parties in Rajasthan. There is nothing new. We have a clear majority. But we still think that to create an anti-BJP front…in Rajasthan everyone who is opposed to the BJP…and who wants to protect the secular fabric and institutions of this country…we are ready to work with them. Despite having a clear mandate, we still think we will work together for the Lok Sabha elections.
Q. So who will be the next Chief Minister?
We have called a meeting of the MLAs at 11 AM. The MLAs and the Congress president and the party will take a view on who will get what position. The decision on who will head the Government lies with the Congress party and whatever the Congress party decides, we will be happy to accept that.