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Rajasthan Congress chief Sachin Pilot promises consensus on candidates for assembly polls

Rajasthan Congress chief Sachin Pilot said that immediately after Diwali, there will be a meeting in Delhi where the final decision on candidates for Rajasthan assembly elections will be taken,

rajasthan elections 2018 Updated: Nov 07, 2018 13:10 IST
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Rajasthan Congress president Sachin PIlot intrect with media persons on Tuesday, November 6, 2018. He said that the party will take the final decision on candidates for assembly elections after Diwali. (HT Photot)

Congress’s state president Sachin Pilot Tuesday said his colleagues in the party and the workers at the grassroots “will build a consensus” on candidates for “majority, if not all” of the seats for the assembly election due on December 7.

“I can promise, maybe this has not happened before in Rajasthan. All of our workers and leaders, after taking the feedback from the people, will build a consensus, if not on all then majority of the seats, and then send one name (for each seat) to AICC chief Rahul Gandhi. Immediately after Diwali, we will have a meeting in Delhi where the final decision (on candidates) will be taken,” Pilot told the media at his residence in Jaipur, in a statement that attempts to put speculations about differences among senior leaders over selection of candidates to rest.

“The confusion over tickets is in the Bharatiya Janata Partyt (BJP)’s camp,” Pilot claimed.

“We have learnt that the BJP does not want to give tickets to about 100-125 sitting MLAs. The public gave a mandate to the BJP (in 2013) and I believe the party cannot shed its responsibility now by just changing the faces (replacing candidates in the upcoming election),” he remarked.

The congress leader also criticised the BJP for raising the Ram temple issue just before the elections. “The BJP talks about temple and mosque after remaining silent on the issue for over four years. (BJP leaders) give controversial statements to divert people’s attention even when the matter is pending before the Supreme Court. I believe they are asked to do so because they have nothing (to show) in terms of development and progress,” he said, adding that the people of the state have made up their minds to send the saffron party packing. “People of Rajasthan have decided to celebrate second Diwali on December 7 by ousting the BJP.”

Pilot expressed confidence about his party’s campaign. “I am happy that the Congress party has cornered the BJP government on all issues. They do not have any response, so to divert people’s attention, they either level personal allegations or raise the temple issue,” he alleged.

“We will fulfil people’s expectations. The experience the public and we (the Congress) have had in the last five years tells us that the BJP, out of frustration, may use any catchphrase or means to divert people’s attention. But they have to take responsibility of their performance,” he said, adding that his party “will bring people’s attention towards issues that concern them, such as oil prices, inflation, demonetisation... and they (BJP leaders) have to reply.”

Pilot also took a dig at some BJP leaders, including chief minister Vasundhara Raje, over visiting people’s homes and “having tea”. “Big leaders (from the BJP) are coming to Rajasthan and holding press conferences but the people want to ask them where were they when farmers were committing suicide. Now that election is here, they are visiting houses and having tea, but they have to take responsibility of five years of negligence, at the state and at the Centre.”

He also refuted reports about the removal of All India Congress Committee secretaries. “I want to make clear that all four of them are working actively and dedicatedly. The party appreciates their work. All such reports are baseless.”

Talking about the party’s manifesto, the state unit in-charge said the party had received over 50,000 suggestions so far through online platforms and the manifesto would be released by mid-November.

Pilot conceded that small political groups and Independents “do get a few seats” but Rajasthan elections are bipolar and the “competition is between the Congress and the BJP”.

BJP spokesperson Mukesh Pareek said Pilot’s claims about “confusion” in the saffron party’s camp “would have been right had their (Congress’s) own list of candidates been announced and had the tickets been distributed peacefully”. “The BJP gives ticket based on the feedback from its workers and we do not need suggestions from the Congress on whom to choose. They should continue doing their calculations on the basis of caste and religion,” he retorted.

He also slammed Pilot for questioning the BJP leaders’ visit to the state. “Perhaps he Is not aware that the election campaign has started and if leaders will not come, then who will? Why are they calling senior leaders to the state? Does it mean that they have failed as the Opposition? It would be better if they worried about themselves. The BJP will retain government in the state on the basis of its workers’ support and the people’s blessing,” Pareek said.

On claims that the BJP was trying to make the temple an elections issue, he said the party was “committed towards constructing a grand temple in Ayodhya as this is a matter of people’s faith. If the congress is against it, then the party should make its stand clear,” he said.

First Published: Nov 07, 2018 13:10 IST