Since the creation of India and Pakistan, Jammu and Kashmir has been the bone of contention between the two and the two have been looking upon one another as enemies. They have fought three wars over it in 1947, 1965 and 1999. It’s an election year and the valour of our soldiers and the Indian Air Force’s surgical strikes on terror camps in Pakistan are now being used by the BJP to win the election.
However, the BJP seems to have forgotten that following the Kargil War which was fought on a bigger and larger scale, the Vajpayee government still had to bow out with an unexpected loss. In this background, NH spoke to the Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister and the Rajasthan Congress president, Sachin Pilot.
Post Pulwama attack, the nation showed great unity by condemning the attack and the Opposition stood in unity with the government. Do you think this will last?
Forget about the unity of the Opposition, the whole nation stood behind the government. In democratic India, there have been many instances of the Opposition’s unity. India is a country of its people, its history, its culture and its integrity. When a situation arises, we all demonstrate our unity without the ruling party at the Centre asking for it. It’s always spontaneous.
The BJP is using the post-Pulwama actions and the surgical strikes and Wing Commander Abhinandan Vardhaman’s release as electoral planks
The whole nation mourned when more than 40 CRPF jawans died in the terror attack in Pulwama and the Congress, as a political outfit, joined hands with all others to demonstrate its anger. The surgical strikes showed the valour and grit of our armed forces, particularly the Indian Air Force (IAF).
But the use of the surgical strikes as political adventurism by the BJP will not result in any fruitful gains for the BJP. The people of India are not misled by political rhetoric.
But with just a few weeks left for the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP will use it and that may give the BJP an electoral advantage...
The people of the country know who are the real heroes. No one can forget the big issues and the promises made by Narendra Modi. Gone are the days when he could fool the whole nation with his mesmerism and false promises. The issue of bread and butter is still paramount and the people will not forget it amidst the hysteria that succeeded the Pulwama massacre.
The people know that Pakistan cannot afford a war and it has learnt from previous experiences. Over the last few years, terms like ghar wapsi, mob lynchings, etc have become common parlance. People in today’s age cannot forget the promises made by Modi on fronts like jobs, better economy, social security, welfare of the farmers. These are the issues that will be debated in gullies and mohallas.
What do you think would be the major issues in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections?
The 2019 Lok Sabha elections will be held in the farmlands, streets and lanes of India. People will ask pertinent questions to those who governed them in the last five years on the promises made to them. People will talk more on the unfulfilled promises rather than the surgical strikes. They will not allow the BJP to emotionally blackmail them any more.
But Modi has the answers for all this. Look at farm loan waivers, 10 per cent reservation for the poor, medicare for the poor?
Gone are the days when people were misled by populist schemes. The people will ask questions on jobs, Demonetisation, black money, fuel prices and various issues related to our borders and Kashmir.
But the Balakot strikes came at an appropriate time.
Yes, but middle class opinion matters and the middle class lives in both metropolitan cities and in villages. It’s the opinion of the middle class that will matter and this middle class is the most aggrieved as they voted the BJP to power when they were promised jobs. But now they have realised that they were all hollow promises.
There is no Make in India, no end to black money, no end to high fuel prices and, to cap it all, no opportunities. Modi’s dream will take a beating in the forthcoming polls.
How are the newly won Congress-ruled states like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh doing?
Congress president Rahul Gandhi, while campaigning in the state in December last year, had promised farm loan waivers and all the states are implementing it. We have started the process of giving allowances to the unemployed youth. New social welfare schemes are being implemented. Even the 10 per cent quota given to the general class poor are being implemented.
In the last Lok Sabha election of 2014, the Congress drew a blank in Rajasthan. Now, the Congress is in power. How do you want to avenge the defeat of 2014?
The Ashok Gehlot government has swung into action ever since it assumed office. By now, over 17 lakh farmers have been given farm loan waivers. We are restarting the various welfare schemes which were initiated by the Congress government and stopped by the Vasundhara Raje government.
All these are being welcomed by the people and our style of governance has no scope for arrogance. It’s a government that is at work and, surely, we would get the people’s mandate in our favour.