BJP negating its own principles

Constituency watch: Rajasthan

Congress Working Committee member and sitting MP from Bhilwara C.P. Joshi decided to contest from a different constituency in the coming parliamentary elections since his credibility was at stake in his current constituency.

In an interaction with The Hindu at his residence in Jaipur on Wendesday, Mr. Joshi — the Congress candidate from the Jaipur (Rural) parliamentary constituency — said he decided against contesting from Bhilwara since he had not been able to keep his promises to the electorate. The decision was not motivated by concerns of a ‘safe seat,’ as was being speculated in some press reports, he said.

“For the last 25 years ... drinking water is being supplied in Bhilwara by trains ... and this when it is an industrial hub ... I had promised the people I would solve this problem and if I failed at it, I would not go seeking their votes again ... public representatives should have credibility,” said Mr. Joshi.

“Now the work is in progress but it will still take time ... so I feel guilty,” he said.

Asked whether the coming parliamentary elections would mark a break in the decade-old Congress-led UPA rule at the Centre, Mr. Joshi replied in the negative. “We have over 40 seats in Bengal, about 40 in Tamil Nadu, 40 in Andhra-Telangana ... [that’s] 120 seats ... then there are 25 seats in the North East ... where is the BJP?”

“In a coalition government … you need a leader who’s liberal, who can take people together ... looking at the current scenario, the BJP does not seem to be getting absolute majority ... if they don’t, look at the individual ... does he have the quality to lead the coalition ... I don’t see that,” he said.

Did Congress leader Rahul Gandhi have these qualities? “I think these are qualities that the Congress leadership has demonstrated,” said Mr. Joshi, going on to spell out the UPA government’s flagship welfare schemes as an example of the party’s “good intentions.”

As the leader in-charge of Bihar and West Bengal, what prospects did he think the party had in these states. “In Bihar, we have entered into an alliance with RJD...with this alliance...we will able to create a space for Congress in Bengal, we are going to go it alone (on all seats),” said Mr. Joshi.

But relying too much on flagship schemes didn’t work for the Congress in the Rajasthan Assembly elections. “Working or not working is a different issue ... but see the intention behind this. You also have to look at the health of the organisation ... unless you have a very vibrant organisation ... you can’t translate intentions into votes,” he said.