Rajasthan Congress Chief Sachin Pilot, while addressing a Jan Sabha in Rajasthan, accused the ruling BJP of communal polarisation to deflect attention from real issues in the Assembly polls.
He said that “raking up religious matters at the last minute is an ‘old, tried and tested trick’ of the ruling party but it will not work now”.
He said “no one was talking about the Ram Temple issue in the last four and a half years and now when the BJP might begin to lose all assembly elections, it was "clutching at straws".”
Pilot also claimed that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wanted to implement the "Uttar Pradesh template" of not giving tickets to certain communities in Rajasthan, but was unable to do so because of the people of Tonk.
"They (the BJP) are trying to create issues so that people's attention gets deflected," he said when asked about the Ram temple matter taking centre stage amid elections in five states.
He said people want answers on issues like agrarian crisis, non-performing assets of banks, joblessness, internal security, inflation, and farmer suicides.
"Nobody wants to answer those questions. So the easiest way out is to start talking about mandir and masjid (temple and mosque) and Hindus and Muslims... It is not the job of governments to make churches, gurdwaras and temples.
Attempts (to polarise) will always be there because these are desperate times for the BJP. They will leave nothing to chance, they will try and polarise, they will try and communalise, they will rake up issues of irrelevance, twist statements, latch on to something that is peripheral...but people are smart
The (Ram temple) matter is in the Supreme Court. Whatever the highest court of the land decides is and should be and will be acceptable to everybody. There is no room for debate," he said.
Pilot wondered why people of "certain parties" raise the temple issue on the eve of elections, saying it shows a lot of insecurity in the hearts and minds of the people who are running the government because they have performed poorly.
"To depend on the last-minute talk of religious issues is an old, tried and tested trick of the BJP," he said.
Accusing the BJP of polarisation on communal lines, Pilot said the saffron party tried that in the Alwar by-election earlier this year but the people of Alwar defeated the BJP candidate by two lakh votes.
"So, attempts (to polarise) will always be there because these are desperate times for the BJP. They will leave nothing to chance, they will try and polarise, they will try and communalise, they will rake up issues of irrelevance, twist statements, latch on to something that is peripheral...but people are smart," said the 41-year-old leader.
The young generation of today wants opportunities and the days of communal and caste politics are gone, Pilot asserted.
He also said that a campaign blitz led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of the December 7 polls in Rajasthan will not be able to save the Vasundhara Raje government as its "report card" was in front of the people.
"Modi has campaigned before—he campaigned extensively in Bihar, he has campaigned extensively in Delhi. We all know the results. Even if Modi campaigns here which he is, he cannot dissociate himself from the report card of the Vasundhara government,” Pilot said.
For five years Rajasthan has had a government which was "insensitive, non-responsive, dictatorial," he alleged.
"So Modi can come...but how will he dissociate himself from Vasundharaji's work," Pilot said, alleging that her government has performed "very poorly".
Asked why he chose Tonk as his constituency, Pilot said Congress president Rahul Gandhi wanted him to contest elections and the choice of the constituency was also made by the party.
He said the party's thinking behind choosing this constituency could be that it is adjacent to his previous parliamentary constituency and also the move may help the candidates in the eastern belt of Rajasthan where the Congress did very poorly in the last elections.
He asserted that as a disciplined member of the party he followed what was asked of him.
In a change of strategy, the BJP has fielded Transport Minister Yoonus Khan against Pilot in the Muslim-dominated Tonk by replacing sitting MLA Ajit Singh Mehta.
Pilot said “Khan was initially denied a ticket from Didwana was because of his religion and as ironic as it is, the only reason he was given a ticket from Tonk was because of his religion".
"... not your capacity, not your personality, not your talent, not your hard work, not dedication, but your religion can make you a qualified or disqualified BJP member. They have proven that," the RPCC chief said.
On Congress leaving five seats for alliance partners, he said his party is willing to talk, work and negotiate to create a platform for an anti-BJP front.
"In Rajasthan, many parties have come and joined our ranks and that is a positive development. There is a rainbow coalition being formed to defeat the NDA… This alliance in Rajasthan is indicative of the things to come in future," he said.
Among three alliance partners, two seats each have been given to Sharad Yadav's Loktantrik Janata Dal and Ajit Singh's Rashtriya Lok Dal, while Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party has got one seat to fight.
"We will win Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan and that will really change the political landscape as we head into 2019 Lok Sabha elections," Pilot asserted.
Rajasthan will vote for 200 assembly seats on December 7, while counting of votes will take place on December 11 along with the same for Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram and Telangana.
Counting of votes for all five states will take place on December 11.