Rajyavardhan Rathore, Union Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting & Youth Affairs and Sports, is banking on PM Narendra Modi’s popularity and his own work in the constituency to win a second term from Jaipur Rural.
Excerpts from an interview to Rajesh Asnani:
Congress has made a comeback in Rajasthan and it has been a trend that the party doing well in the Assembly polls also does well in the Lok Sabha elections. How do you assess BJP’s prospects?
Every old trend has to give way to new, because of the way Modiji works. The Congress victory was not a landslide but won with just .5% vote difference. Congress won just 1,80,000 votes more than the BJP in Rajasthan, which is nothing. But this time voting will be for the country, not on caste basis.
What is your reaction to the Opposition charge that the BJP has done nothing on issues on which it won the 2014 elections – from Vikas and Achche Din to providing jobs; and that it is trying to cash in on the airstrike while real issues are being sidelined.
The BJP fought the last elections on Vikas, against corruption and policy paralysis of the Manmohan Singh government. Under Modiji, our government has tried to provide services from houses to gas cylinders to the last person.
We have also started the world’s biggest health scheme under which 5 crore people are to be treated free. The state government has launched a loan waiver scheme for farmers only to garner votes but dumped the claims of over 30 lakh farmers. It will spell doom for the party. Even the unemployment dole of `3,500 it promised is yet to reach any youngster.
What is your opinion on farm crisis and unemployment?
The two issues are challenging but are the cumulative effects of the last 60 years. The Indira Gandhi canal was opened without proper planning and now the water table is going down. We increased the MSP for farmers by 1.5 times. The Congress could have done this earlier. Before 2014, for 30 years, there were coalition governments and the country suffered.
You are a young leader and a sportsman. After becoming a central minister, did you stay connected with the youth in your constituency?
I think education should not be limited to just classrooms. Instead, talent and leadership skills can be better improved on the sports field where even boundaries of caste and class get easily broken. That’s why I developed 24 major playgrounds in my stadium where over 25,000 youngsters come and train every day. This has also helped them get jobs in the Army.
Jaipur had no Army recruitment for over six years but I ensured it happens every year. As a result, the biggest numbers for the Army are now selected from Jaipur. Besides creating 17 fitness centres, I’ve spent `12 crore in building 17 mini stadiums and created three indoor stadiums also. This has created a powerful connect with youngsters here.
How big a competition do you think Congress candidate Krishna Poonia is? Apart from being a popular sportsperson, she also has a clean image.
You should look at which party she is representing! A corrupt party whose president has no standing; a party which keeps lying and changing statistics according to its convenience.
What according to you were the reasons that the BJP lost in Rajasthan? Even in your own constituency, BJP lost 6 out of 8 Assembly seats.
The Assembly elections were fought on different issues. There is this slogan in Jaipur Rural currently that “gail ne jao bhool, aage thoko kamal ka phool (forget about the past and now go and vote for the BJP).”
The Congress waived off farm loans and now they are bringing the Nyay scheme. Do you think these could prove to be game changers?
Rahul Gandhi tries to be like Narendra Modi but falls flat on his face doing so.... I recollect a Hindi saying that ‘nau sau chuhe khakar billi Haz ko chali (after committing all the sins they visit holy places)’. After the ‘anyaya’ (injustice) of 60 years, you say “ab Nyaya hoga” (justice will be done now). Yes, justice will happen at the voting booths and it will be done by the people!