By Anil Sharma
Jaipur, Aug 17:
The Congress, which suffered one of its worst defeats in both the assembly and Lok Sabha polls, is now trying to regroup itself to fight the local bodies polls, with newly-appointed Rajasthan state party chief Sachin Pilot downplaying reports of factionalism.
“There is no factionalism. There can be differences of opinion, but there is no factionalism. There is only one faction in the party – that is of Sonia Gandhi. I am getting full support from all the seniors of the party in the state,” Pilot, a former minister at the centre, told IANS in an interview.
Pilot, an amiable 36-year-old who is far removed from the stereotyped Indian politician, said that his first aim is to strengthen the party at the ground level. To this end, he is at present busy in meeting party workers, leaders and others to get their feedback.
“We are now readying for the municipal and panchayat elections and by-elections in four assembly constituencies,” he said, adding that the party “will go all out” in these polls.
“We suffered defeats in both assembly and Lok Sabha polls and it is my responsibility to see that the morale of party workers remain high and we fight the polls with full force,” he said.
The Congress lost power in the December 2013 assembly polls, suffering one of its worst defeats as it could win only 21 of the state’s 200 seats. The BJP won 163 seats. The Congress, which had 20 seats in the 15th Lok Sabha, could not win a single of the state’s 25 seats in the April-May general elections.
With Saturday’s announcement that the by-polls in Surajgarh, Weir, Nasirabad and Kotah-South would be held September 13, Pilot said: “After discussing with senior leaders, we will field winnable candidates in these constituencies.”
The civic polls are likely between October and December and the panchayat polls soon after.
Pilot, while dismissing media reports that he would contest one of the by-polls said: “My aim is to see that the party fights these elections with full vigor.”
Castigating Rajasthan’s Vasundhara Raje government, Pilot said that everything is being converted to the PPP (public-private partnership) mode.
“We had a free medicine scheme, which was praised by each and every one. Now, I have heard that people are not getting free medicines. Roads are being built in the PPP mode, the roadways is going to be run on PPP mode. It seems the state government wants to shrug off its responsibilities by giving everything to the private sector,” he said.
“The law and order situation has deteriorated, 17,000 schools are going to be closed and except for making announcements nothing concrete has been done in the state in the nine months since the BJP government came into power in the state.
“A few months back, they organised Sarkar Aapke Dwar (government at your doorstep) in Bikaner district; I have heard that 60,000 complaints were received from people there. I want to know how many of these complaints were resolved,” Pilot said.
Flaying the NDA government at the Centre, Pilot said it had failed to curb the price rise.
“Fruits, pulses and vegetables have all become expensive. They used to attack our government on inflation on a regular basis. Now they are in the government. Why don’t they reduce inflation? People are troubled and shocked, but they are not getting relief from anywhere,” Pilot concluded.
(Anil Sharma can be contacted at [email protected])