Amid a growing chorus for Opposition parties to close ranks and put up united candidates against the BJP in key battle States like Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan where elections are due around November-December, Rajasthan Congress chief Sachin Pilot has pointed out that “Rajasthan has largely been a two-party State.”
He, however, stressed on Opposition unity at the national level for 2019.
“It’s always been a contest between the BJP and the Congress [in Rajasthan]. In the last four-and-a-half years, Congress party has improved its vote share in every byelection and in the recent byelections of Ajmer and Alwar, they [BJP] were defeated comprehensively. Nationally, of course, we are looking at defeating the BJP/NDA, and that will happen when we all work together. And the Congress has to be the pivot around which Opposition parties will collate,” Mr. Pilot told The Hindu .
“The nation is looking at the Opposition to pose a formidable challenge to the BJP in the next Lok Sabha elections. And in that regard, the Opposition unity, whether its Uttar Pradesh by-elections or other places, its there for all to see,” he said. Mr. Pilot’s comments are significant as Opposition parties are talking about extending the Kairana model — where Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Congress supported Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) candidate Tabassum Hassan — to other key battlegrounds like M.P., Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan.
Having been out of power for 15 years, the Congress party is keen on a grand alliance in M.P. and Chhattishgarh. With 6 per cent votes and four seats in MP, the Congress is in talks with the BSP to avoid a split in the anti-BJP votes in the State. On Wednesday, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, who met RLD’s Jayant Chaudhury, too indicated his willingness to join a grand alliance in M.P.
But Congress leadership in Rajasthan is apparently taking a more nuanced position. “We have always worked with many Opposition parties on many issues, on farmers’ issues, Dalit issues... There are also non-political entities that we have worked with and even now we are happy to work with. But in terms of contesting elections, it’s always been two parties. Other smaller parties like the Communist Party, SP or the BSP have presence, but its marginal at best,” said Mr. Pilot.