The Bharatiya Janata Party will communalise the upcoming Rajasthan assembly elections, and it won’t work, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said, claiming that the strategy failed in Karnataka — where Congress registered an emphatic victory — and it will fail in the western state as well.
The Chief Minister, in an exclusive interview with NDTV, raised his pitch on a national social security act to highlight his “welfare model” of governance, which he hopes will help the party retain power. The grand old party had focussed on welfare schemes in Karnataka as well, many of which were slammed as ‘revdi’ (freebies) by top BJP leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“They (BJP) will try to win over people by communally sensitive statements,” he claimed. “If you keep talking about religion, people will get attracted to you. But that it not the right thing to do,” he later said.
“Whether PM Modi or Amit Shah…they raise slogans in the name of religion…none of that will work this time. It didn’t work when they mentioned Bajrang Bali in Karnataka. That was very wrong. I had demanded the election commission stop PM Modi from campaigning. This is a kind of crime,” Mr Gehlot said. “It’s in their nature, they can do anything,” he added when asked whether it will happen in Rajasthan as well.
The Rajasthan Chief Minister said his party’s governance infrastructure will help them withstand the aggressive BJP campaign in the state this time and his government will surely return to power. Mr Gehlot has repeatedly stressed the several welfare schemes — he says there are almost 10 — which his government recently launched, are not election focussed, but meant to serve people in the long term.
Rajasthan has had a rotational system — BJP and Congress winning alternate elections — for most of the last four decades.
“I believe we will win based on our governance in the last five years, and how we have worked on issues like infrastructure, education, health, water, the welfare of daughters, or roads — 1 lakh km of roads will be built in Rajasthan, and 56,000 km have already been completed,” the chief minister said. We are giving pensions to one crore people, he added.
Bullish on his welfare pitch, Mr Gehlot said he has requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to bring a national social security legislation similar to Rahul Gandhi’s Nyay scheme, and four laws passed by former PM Manmohan Singh and former party chief Sonia Gandhi — Right to Information (RTI), Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), National Food Security Act, and The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act.
Ashok Gehlot said his recent state budget was based on the four issues raised during Rahul Gandhi’s pan-India foot match Bharat Jodo Yatra — price rise, unemployment, non-violence, and stopping the widening gap between the rich and the poor.
“I presented my budget based on these themes, from which the welfare schemes have come up. 10 schemes have been formulated, and these won’t just be for the elections, but will continue in the future as well. Insurance coverage has been raised to Rs 25 lakh from Rs 10 lakh, a Right to Health Act was also formulated, which can be availed across the country,” he said.
The Chief Minister reiterated the charge by several opposition parties that the Centre is using probe agencies to settle political scores and target them ahead of polls. It’s in the national interest that these premiere agencies maintain credibility, he said.
“Constitution is being destroyed, democracy is weakening because the BJP government is misusing agencies like ED and CBI. It’s in the national interest that these premiere agencies maintain credibility. We would welcome it if they go after the culprits, and seize properties etc, but they are given a list, and asked to go to poll-bound states and asked to do whatever they can in their power. This trend is dangerous and not in the interest of the country,” he added.
Rajasthan goes for Assembly polls at the end of the year.