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Will ‘100 per cent’ campaign for Gehlot’s son, says Sachin Pilot

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Will ‘100 per cent’ campaign for Gehlot’s son, says Sachin Pilot

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A file photo of senior Congress leaders Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot
| Photo Credit: ROHIT JAIN PARAS

Burying the hatchet with his party rival Ashok Gehlot, Congress leader Sachin Pilot has said he will campaign for his senior colleague’s son Vaibhav who is contesting the Lok Sabha polls from Jalore.

In an interaction with PTI editors at the news agency’s headquarters in New Delhi, the Congress general secretary said a redux of the 2004 election when the party won the polls despite the India Shining campaign of the NDA is very much on the cards.

“A repeat of 2004 is very much possible given the circumstances, given the unrest among most people. What you don’t see in the media is the real sentiment on the ground. This politics of jumlas and overconfidence [by the BJP] has its limits,” Mr. Pilot said earlier this week.

Asked how he has been able to shake off his past differences with Mr. Gehlot and the former Rajasthan chief minister’s ‘nikamma-nakara’ jibe at him in 2020, Mr. Pilot said, “I saw no advantage in replying in the same coin, I refused to be provoked, chose dignity and grace over name-calling and, more importantly, decided to show a large heart and move on.” This, he said, was better for the party, better for his State and certainly better for him.

He recalled the meeting in Delhi last year when he sat down with party president Mallikarjun Kharge and former AICC chief Rahul Gandhi. “I was asked to forgive and forget and move on, which is exactly what I have done, that was the need of the hour for the party and the state.” “I will 100 per cent go (to campaign for Vaibhav Gehlot),” Pilot said in response to a question.

“Last time (in 2019 polls) when I was the Rajasthan Congress president, I pushed for his (Vaibhav Gehlot’s) ticket to get finalised from Delhi, I went for his nomination. He could not win the polls that time but I had campaigned for him. This time he is fighting from another seat, Jalore. I will definitely campaign for him this time also,” he said.

Candidate selection

On why he and Ashok Gehlot, two of the biggest names in Rajasthan Congress were not contesting elections, Mr. Pilot said the decision was made by the CEC (central election committee) keeping in mind everyone’s role in the elections. “Final decision on candidate selection is with the CEC. The party took that decision. I have got responsibility for the State in Chhattisgarh… In an election campaign, the leadership allocates different responsibilities to various leaders,” he said. The best candidates who can win have been fielded in Rajasthan and in Chhattisgarh, he asserted.

“The party decides what role people have to play. The AICC decided that these are the best candidates. I am responsible for all our candidates. In the media sometimes it appears that he or she is of this faction or that faction, that is not the case at all. Every Congress candidate is our candidate, we have to work in a dedicated manner to ensure they win,” he said.

The Congress had not opened its account in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls or in the polls before that in Rajasthan, so the challenge is there before the party, he noted.

He said the feedback he has received is that the Congress will do “exceedingly well” this time in Rajasthan because the people are “fed up and want a change”. “People don’t voice their opinion very freely these days but on voting day, they will vote for the Congress,” he said.

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