Jaipur, April 1 : There is no clash between the leaders in the Congress over the post of Chief Minister in Rajasthan, says state party chief Sachin Pilot as the party high command appointed veteran leader from the state Ashok Gehlot to a crucial post in the All India Congress Committee (AICC).
“It’s not an issue, and the credit for blowing it (reported differences between him and Gehlot) out of proportion goes to our opponents, who are busy cooking up stories,” he says.
“We are working as a team and there is no such clash in the party for the coveted post,” Pilot told IANS in an interview.
There have been reports of infighting between Pilot and former chief minister and strongman Ashok Gehlot over who will be the chief minister if the party wins the next elections due this year end.
On Friday, Congress President Rahul Gandhi appointed Gehlot as General Secretary in charge of organisation and training, replacing Janardhan Dwivedi.
Interestingly, however, Gehlot said in a newspaper interview that young leaders should learn to wait in queue and not try to jump it, remarks seen as a message to his younger rivals in the state unit of the party.
Pilot, who is the president of Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee, said that the party has a tradition in which, once it wins an election, the newly-elected MLAs meet and elect their leader.
On his likely appointment as a general secretary, he said: “I am yet to get any information in this regard. What I know is that I have been sent here to lead the party.
“When I took charge, there were only 21 MLAs. I, along with my team, have struggled hard to build the party and ensure that our party wins the Assembly elections.”
At 26, Pilot became the youngest MP. Five years later in 2009, he became the youngest Union Minister. Under his watch, the Congress this year won crucial by-polls to the Ajmer and Alwar parliamentary constituencies and the Mandalgarh assembly seat. But the credit, he said, goes to the workers.
On Congress’ electoral performance in the state, he said: “In the last four-and-a-half years, there have been by-elections in 22 seats and our party has snatched 20 of them, which speaks volumes about our growing credibility among voters.”
He held that the success of the Congress is not only because of the BJP government’s failure. “We are winning because of our sustained efforts and for standing by the people. People believe in us.”
“Me, (Congress President) Rahul Gandhi and other workers have been trying continuously to represent what Congress stands for — a democratic, secular party which stands by the people when they need it.”
On the recent aggressive campaign by the BJP to reconnect with grassroot-level workers, he said: “Those who sweat in peace times, don’t bleed in war times. People who study round-the-clock are better prepared for exams and are better able to take the test.”
On the change of guard in the Congress leadership at the national level, Pilot said change is the only constant.
“All presidents come with their vision. Rahul Gandhi has come with the vision of bringing in more young people into the party. More younger people will reflect the present India, they also reflect their dreams and aspirations and hence we will build a newer India making their dreams and aspirations as our foundation.
“However, the experience of seniors who have worked for decades will definitely be recognised and used as and when required, unlike the BJP’s Margadarshak Mandal, where seniors are being asked to sit aside.”
He declined comment on reports of seniors resigning after Rahul Gandhi’s recent speech where he kept the stage vacant for youngsters. “Revamping and reorganising are the crucial tasks Rahul Gandhi is working on,” Pilot said.
Pilot also tore into the BJP’s working model. The party has introduced many campaigns, such as Standup India, Digital India, Swasthya India and others — but where is development, he wondered.
“Are the youngsters getting jobs, are the farmers happy? Is the country growing economically? Changing the names of monuments, temple politics, gauraksha politics can never ensure development of the nation,” he said.
“The real agenda is polarisation and communalising people.”
He said that Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje made 611 promises when she formed the government, and there is no clear picture on their fulfilment. “Even now, their government continues making promises with a view to garner more votes.
“In the next few weeks, we will declare our agenda for the forthcoming elections; we won’t be complacent or overconfident, rather we will be confident. Hence, we are travelling and meeting people to get their blessings.”
Talking about a recent event where Raje was shown black flags by some people in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Pilot stressed that people are angry.
“When you promise and don’t deliver, this becomes an issue and then you start terrorising people. This is not democracy; start communicating with people and half the problems are solved. But here, the government is becoming revengeful and arresting people who marked their silent protest.”
Interview By Archana Sharma
(Archana Sharma can be contacted at [email protected])