Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot dares Union Home Minister Amit Shah to set up a probe panel so that the truth can come out.


JAIPUIR: Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has alleged that the BJP and RSS are engineering communal riots to divert people’sattention from core issues like price rise and unemployment. Blaming the “wrong policies” of the Central government for worsening the situation in the country, the CM said the experiment of spreading riots that they (BJP) started in Kairoli is still on. He dared Union Home minister Amit Shah to form a probe committee under the supervision of High Court and Supreme Court judges so that the truth could be revealed. He claimed to have thwarted the bid to spread riots in Rajasthan, saying he will not let it happen in the state. Gehlot claimed that BJP is nervous due to his people-friendly schemes. In an interview with The Sunday Guardian, Gehlot spoke at length about several issues. He said that Modi’s “achche din” has made people cry. He said that Congress and he himself want Rahul Gandhi to become party president. According to Gehlot, Rahul Gandhi is the only leader who has been cautioning the government from time to time on issues like worsening economy, price rise, unemployment. All that he cautioned the government against turned out to be true, said Gehlot. Excerpts:
Q: Your third term is apparently full of challenges. In the first year, you faced the challenge from your own party people and saved the government. This was followed by challenges of Covid pandemic for two years. Now, you are faced with challenges resulting from communal violence in the state. How are you managing all this?
A: Challenges are always there. I don’t get nervous because of challenges. I feel sad when our own people try to destabilize the government. What they don’t understand is that this is not Gehlot’s government but Congress’ government. Sonia Gandhi is the head of the Congress and you are therefore challenging the Gandhi family. I have been saying that Sonia Gandhi has made me CM and I will do whatever she says. Yes, Covid posed challenges. It was challenging for my government to control the pandemic and keep the people safe. We worked hard and our steps were appreciated worldwide. The Bhilwara model was popular worldwide. There were less deaths in Rajasthan as compared to other states. Centre also admired our management. I took decisions taking into confidence all parties, religions and communities. But when there was nothing negative about the Rajasthan government, the BJP worked on the agenda of dividing the state. The BJP cannot digest the achievements of my government.
Q: You mean to say that the BJP is behind the communal violence in Rajasthan?
A: Absolutely. I have been saying this time and again. Rajasthan is known for fraternity and communal harmony, which is why tourists from country and abroad come here. But the communal violence whipped up by the BJP affects the tourism sector badly. Riots and violence tarnish the image of the state that affects tourism that makes a direct impact on the economy.BJP does not want the state to progress, as when they did not find anything against my government, they started resorting to communal violence tactics to polarize votes. I dare Amit Shah to form a probe committee for all the seven states where riots happened. All the truth will be revealed and riots will not happen in future. I know he will not do so. But my government is not taking the incidents of Jodhpur, Karauli, Bhilwara and Alwar lightly. The guilty will not be spared after investigation.
Q: There are allegations that the state police and intelligence also failed?
A: I don’t agree. The BJP could not succeed in engineering a big riot due to alertness of both the police and the intelligence. It was due to police’s alertness that there could not be a riot in Jodhpur, as everything was controlled timely. The situation is returning to normal rapidl. Similarly, the police controlled the situation in Bhilwara, Alawar and Karauli too. The government took action against those responsible for these acts. In fact, the BJP got panicky after my government brought the people-friendly budget which is popular across the country. Government employees in Uttarakhand and Kerala are expecting the same old pension scheme. It was a big decision. The BJP government had abolished this scheme in 2004 due to which lakhs of employees were disappointed. Now the BJP is nervous after my government revived it. Other schemes like Sanjeevani Yojana, Indira Gandhi Urban Employment Guarantee, free power, loan waiver for farmers, free mobiles to women, etc have given BJP anxious moments. Their high command in Delhi is not comfortable with these schemes, as they know that the Gehlot government will be repeated. There are so many contenders for CM post in BJP and they are all speaking in different voices. That’s why the Prime Minister, Home Minister and BJP’s national presidentare instigating their leaders to muddy the affairs in Rajasthan. RSS is also helping these leaders who are vying with one another to disturb the communal harmony in Rajasthan. They are pushing issues like bulldozer, loudspeaker, etc., to try to win polls. If BJP leaders were so serious about problems in Rajasthan, they would have done something to get national project status to the Eastern Rajasthan Canal Project. But they have nothing to do with Rajasthan’s development. They have instructions to plunge Rajasthan into riots. But I will not let that happen.
Q: You mentioned the bulldozer. But this issomething that is getting popular among people. BJP says that action is not being taken against any innocent person.
A: It means that there will be the rule of bulldozer in the country instead of rule of law. My party and I believe in the rule of law. Law takes its course whenever there is any encroachment. BJP leaders are skilled in diverting issues. The situation in the country is worrisome, with price rise and unemployment assuming alarming proportions. Oil prices are skyrocketing. Common people are under fear, with feelings of brotherhood and fraternity relegated to the background. But BJP is unconcerned about all this. They are talking about the bulldozer to divert attention from core issues. Country is passing through a situation full of fear and uncertainty and this is happening for the first time in 75 years of independence.
Q: But your party and opposition are unable to do anything. No strong leader is there to challenge them. What is your take?
A: Nothing is like that. Our leaders Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and the entire party are raising these issues strongly. We hit the streets on the farmers and price rise issues. But BJP resorts to propaganda to shift the focus. When they noticed anger among people over price rise and unemployment, they pushed religious and communal issues. See what’s happening in Maharashtra. An atmosphere of terror is there in the name of religion. Karnataka is witnessing the same. Similarly, the atmosphere in Jharkhand is also being spoiled. Riots have started in Madhya Pradesh as well. Similarly, efforts were made to plunge Rajasthan into riots. We were alert so the crisis was averted. I am appealing to people of Rajasthan not to be misguided by them and maintain communal harmony.
Q: What is going to happen in Chintan Shivir which is being organized to chalk out the strategy for upcoming elections and dealing with the Modi government?
A: We will let you know whenever something substantial and new comes out. Over 400 leaders will assemble at Udaipur. Congress president Sonia Gandhi has formed committees which will give reports that would be taken up for discussion.
Q: Will Rahul Gandhi become the party president?
A: I will repeat that you will be updated on whatever decision is taken in the Chintan Shivir. My party and I want Rahul Gandhi to be Congress president again. He is the only leader who has been vocal against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government’s faulty policies. See, the BJP’s politics of dividing people on communal and religious lines will not last long. People of the country are now seeing through their designs. People remember the days of Congress rule. Modiji has given such an “achche din” that people are literally crying.