Other States

It is not about individuals, but what ideology you stand for, says Sachin Pilot

Congress Leader Sachin Pilot addressing an election meeting of Karera State Assembly Constituency at Narwar in Shivpuri District of Madhya Pradesh on Tuesday, 27th Oct, 2020.   | Photo Credit: A. M. Faruqui

Having weathered the political turmoil in Rajasthan just a few months ago, Congress leader Sachin Pilot on Tuesday hit the campaign trail for byelections to 28 Assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh, aimed at bolstering the party’s prospects especially in the Gwalior-Chambal region, a stronghold of former party colleague Jyotiraditya Scindia. The nation needs the Congress as a pan-India, political presence which is centrist, secular and forward-looking, says Mr Pilot.

Who is the main adversary of the Congress in the byelection. Is it Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan or Rajya Sabha MP Jyotiraditya Scindia?

It is the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Mr. Scindia and you were party colleagues and considered its young leaders. While he has quit, you’ve stayed on with the Congress despite the political turmoil in Rajasthan. What kept your faith in the party?

The Congress has given me quite a lot in the last 20 years of public life. And I believe it is the core ideology of the party that this nation needs, a pan-India political presence which is centrist, secular and forward-looking. Yet it upholds traditions. It is the only party I believe that has the thought capacity and the bandwidth to take on the BJP.

You’re on the opposite sides today. How does it feel to be campaigning in this changed scenario against the BJP?

I am campaigning for my party, and Mr. Scindia is campaigning for his. It’s not about individuals, but more about what ideology you stand for. And one is free to make political choices. I have campaigned in Madhya Pradesh in the past too, and I have been asked by the party to do so again.

What has changed since the 2018 Vidhan Sabha election. How is the party’s strategy different this time?

That was an election after five years; this one is being forced in Madhya Pradesh. And people are not going to choose just between individuals but two parties. I am absolutely confident we will get an overwhelming majority.

The previous election was about anti-incumbency after 15 years. The BJP was voted out, yet they wriggled their way back to power. Questions are now being asked, more by the public than the Congress, why they were back in the government again after being voted out.

There is a continuing string of defections from within the Congress. Recently, the party in Madhya Pradesh lost its 26th MLA since March to the BJP. What do you believe are the causes?

We all know who is instigating these defections and what is the purpose behind it. But people are smart. Ultimately every MLA and MP is accountable to those he or she represents. So they will be the final judge of whether it was right or wrong.

The party has not had a full-time president for more than a year. Do you think it’s affecting the organisation at the grassroots?

I think that matter has been settled in the last working committee. And it has decided to conduct elections for the party president soon.

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Printable version | Dec 5, 2020 9:05:51 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/it-is-not-about-individuals-but-what-ideology-you-stand-for-says-sachin-pilot/article32955983.ece

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