‘Anger, not polarisation behind Congress show in Rajasthan’: Govind Singh Dotasra

The Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee president said that people did not appreciate the language used by Prime Minister Modi during the campaign.

Published : Jun 04, 2024 19:20 IST - 4 MINS READ

Rajasthan PCC chief Govind Singh Dotasra in Jaipur.

Rajasthan PCC chief Govind Singh Dotasra in Jaipur. | Photo Credit: ROHIT JAIN PARAS

In the Rajasthan Assembly election of December 2023, the BJP trounced the Congress by a comfortable majority. In less than six months, a deeply divided Congress had to face the Lok Sabha election. Govind Singh Dotasra, the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief, was entrusted with the task of reopening the Congress’ account after a hiatus of 10 years.

The Congress was desperate for a revival after drawing a complete blank on all 25 seats in both 2014 and 2019. And Dotasra, a former Minister in the Ashok Gehlot government, was the man charged with the unenviable task of winning some seats for the party and keeping the flock together. Instrumental in forging an alliance with INDIA bloc partners, the CPI(M) and the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party, his efforts seemed to have paid through. The trends from Rajasthan indicate that the party is expected to win 11 seats along with two of its alliance partners. Excerpts from an exclusive interview:

The Congress led INDIA bloc has performed well in this election. As PCC chief, did you expect such results given that in both 2014 and 2019, the party drew a blank?

After we completed the process of ticket distribution, we knew we were going to win a good number of seats, equal to or more than the Bharatiya Janata Party. Along with our alliance partners, we are leading in 11 seats.

Also Read | BJP faces uphill battle in Rajasthan as anti-incumbency and shifting alliances challenge its dominance

What do you think contributed to these wins?

The Bharat Jodo Yatra of Rahul Gandhi; the Nyay Patrasof our party; the campaigns by Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, and Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge where they exposed the Modi government; the enthusiasm of our party workers; etc.

On the other hand, the raids by the Income Tax department and CBI against our leaders and the discontinuation by the newly elected BJP government of the good schemes launched by the previous Congress-led government: all had an impact. Besides, all sections—farmers, SC, ST, minorities, and women—rejected the BJP. Our party workers worked very hard on the ground. We fought unitedly. We campaigned for our INDIA bloc partners and vice versa.

The BJP accused the Congress of practicing appeasement politics. Did the politics of polarisation work here?

No, polarisation did not have an effect. Instead, there was a lot of aakrosh [anger] among the people. The Prime Minister reduced the prestige of the nation with the language he used during campaigning. He constantly tried to pit Hindus against Muslims and claimed that Congress would take away the mangalsutrasof women and give away buffaloes owned by people. People in Rajasthan don’t appreciate this kind of language.

“We have done very well in the Shekhawati belt in Churu, Sikar, Jhunjhunu, and Nagaur. The support of farmers cannot be understated.”

Could the Congress have gained some more seats?

Yes, we could have added more. In Rajsamand, our candidate declined to contest, and then in Jaipur we had to change the candidate last minute.

What about Jalore from where Vaibhav Gehlot [Ashok Gehlot’s son] is contesting? It seems he’s going to forfeit the seat.

See, Jalore was a seat that the BJP had been winning since 2009. But our workers worked very hard and the party was galvanised to make him win. However, we have done very well in the Shekhawati belt in Churu, Sikar, Jhunjhunu, and Nagaur. The support of farmers cannot be understated.

Also Read | Rajasthan: Expect a direct showdown between Congress and BJP

The INDIA bloc experiment took off in Rajasthan where you allied with the CPI(M) in Sikar and Rashtriya Loktantrik Party in Nagaur. Both Amra Ram and Hanuman Beniwal have won. Will the INDIA bloc experiment be repeated in the future?

It is up to our high command and party leadership. We tried at our level. Our party MLAs campaigned for INDIA bloc candidates with all sincerity. Our party in charge Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa ji worked very hard for the alliance to take off. The INDIA bloc candidates have won with very good votes and margins. Our workers worked with honesty.

In Dungarpur-Banswara, our candidate did not withdraw even though we told him to. There was some misunderstanding. Still, we told our party workers to back and support Raj Kumar Roat, the Bharat Adivasi Party candidate. Wherever they had a presence, our alliance partners too transferred their votes to the Congress candidates. Perhaps we could have worked out some more alliances on the tribal seats.

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