The Congress finally seems to have found a counter to the dynasty jibe the Bharatiya Janata Party frequently makes against it. It also appears determined to bring the national focus back to real concerns such as unemployment, farmers' problems and the attack on individual freedom. At News18's 'Baithak' programme on Tuesday, senior Congress leaders Jyotiraditya Scindia and Sachin Pilot articulated the party's position on several matters emphatically.
On the dynasty question, Scindia sought to expose the BJP's dual standards, saying the party was silent on dynasts in its own ranks, which included his own relatives. Both leaders asked the ruling BJP to discuss its own achievements while in power rather than trying to deflect the attention to the past.
Here are the takeaways from their interaction:
On Congress' dynastic politics
Putting dynastic politics in perspective, Scindia, the Congress MP from Madhya Pradesh's Guna, said: "Why didn't the BJP or Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan ask my grandmother (early BJP stalwart Rajmata Vijaya Raje Scindia) the same question? Why don't they question my aunts Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia and Madhya Pradesh Cabinet minister Yashodhara Raje Scindia, who share the same Scindia surname? Why is this issue always raised for the Congress alone?"
Similarly, Pilot pointed out the unfairness of the children of people in other professions being able to follow their family's path without question, but politicians having to explain themselves every step of the way.
"Is it a disqualification that we (Jyotiraditya and Sachin) are the sons of illustrious Congress leaders Madhavrao Scindia and Rajesh Pilot?" the Rajasthan Congress president said. "If the sons of doctors, lawyers, media persons and industrialists can follow their fathers' footsteps, why can't we do the same? We were elected as MPs by the public not only because we are our fathers' sons but because we worked hard and gained the confidence of the electorate."
Both Congress leaders emphasised that politicians should not be assessed on the basis of lineage but on performance, track record and the work they do.
On forming coalitions ahead of the 2019 elections
The Congress leaders asserted that a united rainbow coalition will be formed ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The Congress, along with its alliance partners, will fight by taking up social and economic issues that currently concern the nation.
While Congress president Rahul Gandhi will be the party's face for the 2019 polls, the leader of the 'gathbandhan' will be decided after all alliance partners reach a consensus. "The entire Opposition will be united, will win the elections and come to power," Pilot emphasised.
On Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP and poll issues
Scindia said that the Congress will contest the elections by bringing up issues of internal security, defence, agriculture, unemployment, women's safety, etc.
"Why have 'New India' and 'achche din', as promised by Modiji, failed to materialise even after four years?" he said. "Instead of giving the nation a New India, the BJP has only been criticising the Congress by saying nothing had been done in the past 70 years. It's like driving a car with eyes only on the rear-view mirror. It will lead to an accident. Does the BJP have answers to issues such as the rise in mob lynchings, women's safety and divisive politics?"
Pilot accused the BJP of following "exclusion politics", unlike the Congress, "which believes in inclusiveness". "The public is well aware of the allegations levelled by the BJP-RSS combine against the Congress," he asserted. "People will express their mandate in the Assembly elections to be held by the end of the year and in the 2019 general elections."
The two Congress leaders said that unlike the BJP, their party does not aim for a "BJP-mukt" (BJP-free) India. They claimed that despite Modi's influence, voters will reject the saffron party both at the Centre and in states on the basis of its poor performance.
"A strong Opposition is a sign of a healthy democracy. When we come to power in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, we'll want the BJP to be our Opposition in the Assembly. We have ideological differences with our political opponent, but we don't see them as our enemy," Scindia said.
On Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and bypolls
Both Congress leaders are confident that their party will win the Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan slated for later this year. "Whether it's Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan or Mizoram, instead of projecting any leader as the face of the party for the elections, our focus is on the people of these states," they said.
Scindia was candid in admitting that it was not Shivraj Singh Chouhan's performance but the failure of the Congress to put up a united Opposition that ensured a BJP government in Madhya Pradesh for 15 years. "In the past two years, eight to 10 top Congress leaders in the state joined hands and chalked out a campaign strategy. We'll fight united," he said.
Pilot pointed out that the BJP had lost nearly all the bypolls it had contested in the states where it is in power. "It has never happened before that a party in majority in a state has lost the bypolls. In Rajasthan alone, of 22 the by-elections held, the Congress won 20. The people's verdict will be reflected in the forthcoming elections," he added.
When asked whether Priyanka Gandhi Vadra would be part of the 2019 elections, the Congress leaders said, "It's her personal decision whether she joins. So far, she has limited herself to the Raebareli constituency. But both Rahul and Priyanka have been representing the Congress and working with dedication for the party," they said.
Your guide to the latest cricket World Cup stories, analysis, reports, opinions, live updates and scores on https://www.firstpost.com/firstcricket/series/icc-cricket-world-cup-2019.html. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram or like our Facebook page for updates throughout the ongoing event in England and Wales.
Updated Date: Aug 07, 2018 18:18:51 IST