At the launch of NDTV’s new channel, NDTV Rajasthan, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said the Centre’s push for ‘one nation, one election’ without developing a consensus is an example of democracy being in danger in India.
In an exclusive conversation with NDTV’s Editor-In-Chief Sanjay Pugalia, Mr Gehlot was asked about his opinion on holding simultaneous elections for the Lok Sabha and state assemblies across the country.
“I have been saying this for a long time. Whatever is happening today, no one knows the direction that the country is heading in. Democracy is in danger and the Constitution is being ripped to shreds. Simultaneous polls are an example of this. The Centre could have done this by taking opposition parties along and holding discussions with them,” the chief minister said in Hindi.
Referring to former President Ram Nath Kovind heading the committee to examine the issue, the Congress leader said, “The President’s post is a prestigious one. I have never heard of a former President heading a committee. The committee will be criticised as well as praised, and you have needlessly involved the former President in this.”
Mr Gehlot said the Centre could have taken the opposition into confidence and the fact that it did not do so makes people doubt its intentions. He said the government was well within its rights to call the special Parliament session from September 18-22, but it has still not told the nation why it has been called. “These things are not good in a democracy,” he said.
The chief minister asserted that the people of Rajasthan have made up their minds to re-elect the Congress government in the state.
Asked whether he was worried that the BJP had failed to form a government in Rajasthan after losing in the elections, and that it would take revenge, the chief minister said, “They (the BJP) should know who they are dealing with.”
When NDTV followed up and asked where the uncharacteristic aggression was coming from, he said, “It’s coming from the heart. When one is walking on the path of truth, one gets aggression at the right time, as well as success.”
The senior Congress leader said the Narendra Modi factor is not going to work in the upcoming Assembly elections and that the party has set a target of winning 156 of the state’s 200 seats.
On law and order, Mr Gehlot pointed to data from the National Crime Records Bureau and said that other states have a worse record than Rajasthan. He said crime is happening in the state, but the accused are being caught within hours.
“As soon as our government was formed, we made registering an FIR mandatory. We are paying a lot of attention to law and order, and this is showing in the data. The NCRB book clearly states that an increase in the number of FIRs does not mean crime is increasing,” he said.
Mr Gehlot pointed to initiatives like schemes for farmers, the Gig Workers Bill as well as infrastructure development in Rajasthan and said his government has taken many steps that no other state has. He also said his government is not doling out ‘freebies’ and is managing its finances well.
When it was pointed out to him that like the “Modi vs who” question at the Centre, there is a “Gehlot vs who” question in Rajasthan, the chief minister said, “They (the BJP) are looking for an answer.”