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Congress Has Lost the Plot Before 2019, Says Prakash Javadekar

"When Modiji arrived on the scene as PM candidate, BJP had only six states and Congress had 16. Today, Congress has four and BJP has 19," Javadekar said.

Marya Shakil | CNN-News18maryashakil

Updated:October 18, 2018, 3:38 PM IST
Congress Has Lost the Plot Before 2019, Says Prakash Javadekar
File photo of Union Minister Prakash Javadekar. (PTI Photo)
Months before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, five states will witness a semi-final of sorts with the Congress posing a strong challenge to the BJP in at least two of them. Speaking to CNN-News18, senior BJP leader and union minister Prakash Javadekar, however, is confident of the party's victory.

Edited excerpts:

Rajasthan has always seen the trend of voting out the incumbent. What makes you sure that it will not be repeated this time?

This trend existed for 20 years. Earlier, Bhairon Singh Shekhawat had two consecutive tenures. The Congress, too, had many consecutive tenures. Such a trend existed in Uttar Pradesh, too, for 15 years. All that is history now. The BJP has gained enormous support from all sections of the society. The poorer sections earlier supported the Congress, but they are now in favour of the BJP and PM Narendra Modi. People have seen and acknowledged the developmental work done by the Vasundhara Raje government in Rajasthan. This realisation among the people as well as Opposition should break the jinx. It will be “BJP phir se”.

There have been series of by-elections hinting at anti-incumbency in Rajasthan…

The results which were discussed at national level were the two Lok Sabha and an Assembly by-election. These definitely were not in our favour. But that can be called an aberration because of the BJP’s mistakes. Selection of candidates and campaigning was not taken seriously. Nobody thought it would result in defeat. We have already analysed that. We are taking care of each constituency. We have fresh faces along with present MLAs, a mix of young and old on our new list of candidates. Our work will be communicated properly to bridge the gap.

Jaswant Singh's son Manvendra Singh looks like a problem for the BJP. Is it going to be a major setback for the BJP in Rajasthan?

In a way, he had left BJP four years ago when Jaswant Singhji fought independently and Manvendra campaigned for him. With that, Manvendra dissociated himself from the party. We all know it. But it does not affect us because we connected with the community over the last four years. We have their support because we do not engage in caste politics.

It is being said that Manvendra, along with 10 prominent Jat leaders, will be joining Congress. Don't you think it is a matter of concern that a new caste or social engineering can emerge in Rajasthan if Jats and Rajputs come together?

Skirmishes between Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot are out in the open and it is a big worry for Congress. Gehlot says that some leaders in the party are giving money to improve their ratings. When Gehlot speaks in a rally, Sachin Pilot’s supporters boo him. Their attempts to hold workers’ meeting, like BJP, caused an infighting. So, there can’t be any comparison. The Congress has lost its plank. When Modiji arrived on the scene as PM candidate, BJP had only six states and Congress had 16. Today, Congress has four and BJP has 19. This happened because Congress lost the plot. This will reflect in the Rajasthan state assembly elections too. The Congress is becoming a party of the irrelevant. They're supporting Maoists, they are saying that they don't want Ram Mandir, they're supporting all fringe elements and breaking India in the name of freedom of speech.

If we look at the situation on ground, the Haryana Jats have been at loggerheads with the BJP and elections are taking place in the neighbouring state of Rajasthan. Don't you think talks with the Jats have failed?

Unlike PM Modi and former prime minister Vajpayee, Congress has failed to give social justice to any of these groups. The Congress ensures infighting among various sections of the society. They're persistent on breaking and we're committed to unite. We are delivering on our promises to each section of the society. I don't want to divulge what we're doing but we are sure that we will get the support of all communities despite efforts by Congress.

There have been series of agitations by the Gujjars demanding reservation. The Congress does have a strong Gujjar face. Do you have a plan in terms of wooing this particular constituency?

During the 2007 agitation, I was involved in the solution of the issue. I was here for two months and we negotiated successfully. It was the BJP government that granted reservation. So everyone knows it. We have tried to give social justice to all. We are committed to it.

It is being said that the state election in November and December will be the semi-finals for 2019. Do you agree?

I don't think so. Every state election is a new election. In 1999, we advanced the assembly elections in Maharashtra to align with the Lok Sabha elections. On the same day, we got 30 % of votes along with the Shiv Sena in the Assembly and 40% vote in Parliament. So, 10% of the people in the same booth, at the same time voted differently. People understand it and we're winning all the three states where we're ruling. We will improve our performance in both the states and we expect a good result.

You're seeing this as precursor to 2019?

You can say they are a precursor, but it is just one major election before 2019 general elections. But as I said, every election is a new election. People treat every election differently and they vote differently for different elections.

As the BJP in charge of Rajasthan, can you say that these elections for the party are being fought under the leadership of Vasundhara Raje and that she is the face of elections?

She is our chief ministerial candidate. It is a joint effort by Vasundhara Raje, Modiji and Amit Shahji. I think this Trimurti will work wonders in all the three states and we will win.

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