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Interview | 'Why Is Modi Ji Talking of Article 370 and Kashmir in Rajasthan and Not Agniveer?'

Congress's Govind Singh Dotasra tells 'The Wire' that Modi has 'lost his magic'.
Govind Singh Dotasra. Photo: X/@GovindDotasra

The first phase of the Lok Sabha elections in Rajasthan is set to be held tomorrow, April 19. In an interview with The Wire, state Congress president Govind Singh Dotasra talks about his party’s chances of winning seats, flip flops in the Congress’s ticket distribution system and the INDIA alliance shaping up in Rajasthan.


How is the 2024 Lok Sabha elections different from 2014 and 2019, when the Congress failed to win any of the 25 seats in Rajasthan?

Apart from the anti-incumbency of 10 years against the BJP, the public is also aware of the fact that they have not fulfilled their promises. Back in 2014, they had said that they will reduce price rise, provide jobs, double the farmers’ income. But that didn’t happen. In 2019, they sought votes in the name of Pulwama, hiding behind the valour of the Army and the martyrs. Since the nation is supreme, they got votes. This year, at a time when the unemployment rate in our country is the highest, inflation has increased three times, when you have branded farmers as terrorists, the BJP has nothing to answer. They spoke of ending corruption, the electoral bond episode showed how corruption has been enabled through the bonds. The public now knows the BJP and won’t vote for it.

On the other hand, the Congress party has presented clear promises including those of implementing MSP, jobs for the youth and Rs. 1 lakh to poor women.

Also read: ‘PM Told Me to Keep Quiet’ After Pulwama: What Satya Pal Malik Said

Last time there was a Congress government, and still the party couldn’t win a single seat. How do you expect to improve your tally this year after the ouster of the Gehlot government?

We are working hard and are reaching out to people. The BJP asks for a hisab [a reckoning or calculation] of 70 years but they can’t give a hisab of their 10 years. They are talking about changing the constitution. It means they will either change provisions related to reservation or create a system where elections are just an eyewash.

We saw flip flops during the ticket distribution process of Congress in Rajasthan. Your Jaipur candidate had to be replaced after his alleged association with right-wing platform Jaipur Dialogues. In Rajsamand, Sudarshan Singh declined to contest after his name was announced. Don’t these developments expose chinks in the armour of the party?

As per our survey, Sunil Sharma was made the candidate from Jaipur. But later some of our party leaders expressed their objections over his alleged association with a YouTube channel which is communal. I am not delving into who was right, who was wrong. But Sunil Sharma showed his mettle as a true Congressi and voluntarily withdrew his candidature. As for Rajsamand, based on our surveys and also discussion with Sudarshan Rawat’s father, his name was announced as the candidate. But after Rawat returned from abroad, he told us that he will have to stay abroad for 2-3 months because of his business and he wouldn’t be able to contest elections. Thereafter, we changed the candidate.

Will the party suffer the adverse effects of candidate changes?

No, it will not have any effect on the elections.

Also read: Rogue Candidates, Leaders Refusing to Honour INDIA Ties Add to Congress’s Rajasthan Woes

The INDIA alliance has been formed in Rajasthan, with two seats left for the CPI(M) and Rashtriya Loktantrik Party. The BJP has mocked the Congress saying that party doesn’t have 25 candidates for all the constituencies…

The BJP tied up with Hanuman Beniwal [who heads the RLP] last year. Didn’t they have a candidate of their own back then? Wo karein toh ganga ji nahana, hum karein toh beimani [If they do it, then it is sacred, if we do the same thing it is treachery]? We are committed to saving democracy and the constitution. Our high command in Delhi decided to be a part of the INDIA Alliance. The BJP has panicked since the INDIA alliance was formed. As part of the alliance, we had to leave some seats to other member parties. The CPI(M) has a vote bank in Sikar and Hanuman Beniwal’s RLP has a vote bank in Nagaur, owing to which the seats have been left for them. Didn’t the BJP form the NDA? We are certain that Congress’s votes will be transferred to these parties.

The Ashok Gehlot-Sachin Pilot feud has played throughout the last five years of Congress rule in Rajasthan. How will the party show up a united front now, before the Lok Sabha elections?

Can you see any difference? We sit together, discussed collectively in the ticketing process and are also campaigning. But I cannot say the same for Vasundhara Raje ji and the BJP. Despite being a former two-time Chief Minister, she is not seen anywhere, even not during the Prime Minister’s visits. Either candidates are not calling her for campaigning or candidates have been asked not to involve her. The present chief minister doesn’t ever mention Raje or the schemes which started during her tenure. The infighting is in the BJP, not in the Congress.

In Banswara, despite extending support to the Bharat Adivasi Party (BAP), a rogue Congress candidate has refused to withdraw his nomination…

We couldn’t form an alliance with the BAP in multiple states. But when it came to Rajasthan, our objective was to defeat the BJP to save the country. Henceforth we decided to extend our support to BAP. Our symbol will be there on the voting day because somehow one of our own Congress leader was managed. But we believe that the party will take action, the issue will be sorted and all Congress workers will strive to defeat the BJP.

Banswara players: From left, official Congress candidate Arjun Singh Bamaniya, Congress candidate who filed his papers – Arvind Damor, and BAP candidate Rajkumar Roat.

What is your take on the present BJP government led by Bhajan Lal Sharma?

They have not done anything for a report card to be prepared. Bhraman, bhashan and bhramit [travel, speech and fooling around], are their three models. They say repeatedly that SOG is moving ahead, SIT is moving ahead. It’s the same work we did. We arrested 200-250 people and now you have arrested 20 more people and are taking credit. You had said that you will stop question paper leak but you have not done anything concrete.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been doing a series of rallies in Rajasthan. Do you think it will further damage the Congress’s prospects of winning some seats this year?

Now, Modi ji has lost his magic. Wherever he is going, he is not talking about issues that concern the state. In Churu, instead of talking about farmers’ issues, youth, giving a clarification on the Agniveer scheme and whether it will be abolished, the Prime Minister spoke of ending Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir. What does Jammu and Kashmir have to do with Rajasthan?

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