By Anil Sharma, Jaipur, Nov 24 IANS | 9 months ago

The Congress will return to power with a thumping majority on the strength of the public welfare schemes and social security programmes undertaken in the last five years, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot says.


Rajasthan, with 200 assembly seats, goes to the polls on Dec 1 and the counting of votes will take place on Dec 8.

Gehlot said that BJP leaders seeking votes often compare the development works carried out in Rajasthan with Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat.

"It is ridiculous as Rajasthan has left these two states much behind in several parameters of development. We have pioneered many public welfare schemes. We launched a number of social security programs and ensured that these benefits reach the common men. Several of our schemes including free medicine and free medical tests are being not only replicated in several states of the country, but also appreciated by the World Health Organisation," Gehlot said in an exclusive interview to IANS.

He added that BJP failed to perform the duties of the opposition in Rajasthan for five years.

"Vasundhara-ji (BJP state president and chief ministerial candidate) was on four-year-long tour of London, Delhi and Dehradun and was rarely seen in Rajasthan. Then just for the sake of seeking votes, she undertook a campaign tour across the state in six months. Do you think voters don't know who is doing what," Gehlot asked.

He insisted that Congress will form the government with a majority.

Gehlot denied that there was any discontent in the minority community over the Gopalgarh communal violence that claimed lives of 10 Meo Muslims in September 2011.

"The matter is sub-judice so I will not say much. But I will like to draw attention to the fact that the violence was contained within one hour. Three of the victims died in police firing. We never let anything happened after the violence. Not a single person was even injured," said Gehlot.

He said that Congress is going to polls with several development issues.

"Rajasthan is moving towards self-dependence in solar energy. We have brought the Metro to Jaipur, a refinery in Barmer and constructed powerhouses and roads on a large scale. We launched several projects related to education, drinking water and health. Besides, free medicine and medical tests, wheat for BPL families at the rate of one rupee per kg, pension to senior citizens are among some of the feathers in our cap," said Gehlot.

On Gujarat chief minister and BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, Gehlot said that will not be accepted owing to his controversial past.

"It will be difficult for Modi to face the people after what happened in Gujarat in 2002".

"It has been a challenge for BJP to name him as the party's prime ministerial candidate. His candidature shows that the BJP has lost relevance as a political party as it was the RSS pressure that forced it to name Modi," said Gehlot.

(Anil Sharma can be contacted at anil.s@ians.in)

(Posted on 24-11-2013)