Lok Sabha Election

Conversations on alliances will take place after the polls: Jyotiraditya Scindia

Jyotiraditya Scindia   | Photo Credit: Shanker Chakravarty

On the campaign trail in Guna in Madhya Pradesh, incumbent MP Jyotiraditya Scindia says the UPA++ is in a much better position than the the NDA++.

You just addressed a gathering where you reminded the crowd of what you have done in the past 17 years as the Guna MP. What is at stake for you this time? Is this election any different?

There are two different things at stake for me — one is at the national level and one is at the local level. At the national level, what is at stake to me is our country’s concept of freedom and liberty, of upholding the truth, of upholding the Constitution, and the way that the Constitution is being trampled upon today. Every Constitutional institution today is being compromised... At the local level, its a continual journey, it is a journey of development and progress. I have a vision in mind for this whole area and I am working on that vision.

Many people say they want you to represent Guna, but they want Narendra Modi as Prime Minister. How do you see this dichotomy? Has the Congress been able to present an alternative?

Well, I think that I cannot dismiss or discredit the opinions that you have sought because those are real, first-hand opinions. But, I think, probably those opinions will be in the minority, as opposed to the majority, because people have also seen through the false promises of the Modi government, whether it was the ₹15 lakh in all bank accounts or 2 crore jobs or the doubling of MSP [minimum support price] across the board. So, I think people are looking for change and the fact that the Congress has a track record of putting in place whatever it promises, like the MGNREGA [Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act] programme, or the Bharat Nirman programme and the Right to Information (RTI) Act. All of these facts have built up the hopes and aspirations for the public towards the Congress.

The BJP’s supporters say the election is about Mr. Modi. What issues are resonating with voters?

The proof of the pudding will be out on May 23. Let the chips fall where they will. Certainly, people are looking for a change.

You’ve recently said that no party will get a majority on its own and that a ‘UPA++’ government will be formed. Given that allies will be important, how do you see the Congress’s handling of this, particularly the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), whose chief Mayawati is angry over the BSP’s Guna candidate joining the Congress?

It’s not only the Guna [BSP] candidate that has supported the Congress. Even in the close-by Rajgarh constituency, the BSP candidate has supported the Congress. So, what’s the difference between Guna and Rajgarh? On allies, that conversation will take place post-May 23. I think we are in a much better position, UPA++, compared to an NDA++, but again, that is my hypothesis, which will either be corroborated or put aside on May 23.

 

On the recent remarks by Mr. Modi on Congress president Rahul Gandhi and the late Rajiv Gandhi and family vacationing on a warship when the latter was Prime Minister.

See, Mr. Modi and the BJP have nothing to say on the real issues that affect the people of India. The real issues are agrarian distress, rampant and large-scale unemployment, lack of security for women, rapid rise of intolerance in our country, fallout of notebandi (demonetisation) and the Gabbar Singh tax [GST]. If you notice, none of these issues are resonating in his campaign. So, the BJP is going back to what we were taught in Class III, the principle in mathematics of the lowest common multiple (LCM). The BJP’s LCM is Hindutva and its jumlawadi (false promises) nationalism and that is what the BJP regresses to every single time because, in five years, they have done nothing.

Name one scheme that they have rolled out, which is not what they have received in legacy from the UPA government.

As the Congress general secretary for western Uttar Pradesh, you can say what is the impact on the Congress following its exclusion from the alliance with the BSP and the SP? Won’t you cut votes?

The fact is that we are fighting on the ground on our own, we have taken that call. We are rebuilding the Congress party in U.P. and you will see the result of that in terms of vote share and number of seats. That’s the reality today and that doesn’t mean all doors are closed for the future. But, [on] that decision, when we come to that crossroads, then we’ll talk about it. There is no point in talking about it now because we are fighting the election on our own strength and they are fighting on their own strength.

There is chatter among locals that the BJP may try to break the Madhya Pradesh government. Are you concerned?

They [the BJP] certainly may try and do what they are best at, which is is murdering democracy. They have done that in Goa and a couple of other States. They can certainly try and they have been trying in Madhya Pradesh for the past two-three months. But all I can say to them is: Mungerilal ke haseen sapne (proverbially unrealistic dreams).

What is your take on Rahul Gandhi as Prime Minister: will it be acceptable to your allies?

Rahul Gandhi has all the qualities [required] to make a very dynamic and powerful Prime Minister for our country, and I certainly believe that he is the most able to lead the country forward. On May 23, I hope that in the UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government, Mr. Gandhi is chosen by the constituents of the UPA to lead the country forward for the next five years. We are not the BJP, where we decide for everyone. The UPA is chaired by Sonia Gandhi and all the constituents of the UPA will sit together and decide who their leader will be. For the Congress, we have already taken that decision and that decision is Rahul Gandhi.

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