(MENAFN- IANS) By Archana Sharma
Jaipur, March 19 (IANS) Those aware of the state's past would agree that Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has a history of weakening his own party, says state BJP chief Satish Poonia.
Each time he has helmed the state as a Chief Minister, anti-incumbency against his government has increased significantly leading to the party getting fewer seats. In 2003, Congress notched 56 seats which came down to 21 in 2013. But that's not the case with BJP. We have maintained a decent score. In 2003, we had bagged 78 seats while the Congress got 96 and in 2018, BJP won 73 seats, while Congress had 99,' Poonia said in an exclusive interview with IANS.
Asked about former Chief Minister Sachin Pilot's future prospects, Poonia said, 'Sachin pilot does not figure in our cards as of now.'
Replying to a query on matters raised by Gehlot like ERCP, Sanjeevani scam etc, Poonia said, 'The CM is unable to cover the party infighting and his government failures and hence has created such issues.'
In Rajasthan, leaders have had ideological wars but there never has been political vengeance. However, these days, the CM seems to be intentionally indulging in this vengeance after his son's Vaibhav Gehlot's defeat.
Poonia said: 'Why is the Sanjeevani issue being raised now during the election? Why is the CM speaking like SOG accusing Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat's mother when the agency is probing the issue? All these questions indicate that the CM has lost it.
'The very fact that he stood in the Assembly and started reading last year's budget says it all,' he added.
On the still-vacant seat of Leader of Opposition position in the state, the BJP leader said, 'This issue is being undertaken by central leadership. Even in the ruling government, the deputy speaker position has been lying vacant for the past four-and-a-half years. So this is not a major issue. As of now, we need to focus on 2023 Assembly polls,' said Poonia.
To a query on projection of a CM face in Rajasthan, he said all senior leaders have decided that the party shall contest the Assembly polls under collective leadership. 'In the present circumstances, it seems that there will not be any CM face; rest, the top leadership will decide.'
Responding to a question on the show of strength on former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje's birthday celebration clashing with state's organisational protest on March 4, he said, 'Since the Assembly was off on Saturday, we decided on the date. But we were clueless about a major programme on Raje's birthday thinking that it would be limited to a prayer at Salasar temple.'
It is reported that 55 MLAs were present on the occasion, but he said 25 out of 73 MLAs were here. We never put any compulsion on any MLAs. They were free to go where they wanted.'
Poonia further said that BJP's strength in Rajasthan is RSS and allied organisations. 'In tribal areas, we never have had any candidate, however, these organisations have made strong grounds there and are helping the party to strengthen. Organisations like Kisan Sangh and Vanvaasi sangh have a strong role to play, he added.
On new equations being formed with union minister Hardeep Singh Puri meeting son of Jaswant Singh Manvendra Singh here in Barmer, he said, 'Puri had cordial relations with Jaswant Singhji and family. However, if Ghanshyam Tiwari can return, other leaders can also come,' he added.
Poonia also spoke about migrated Rajasthanis whom he has been meeting in different parts of the country. Two crore people from the state are staying in other states and he has met a number of them, he said, adding that they have expressed their concerns and want train connectivity from Marwar to Bengaluru, Vhennai and Kolkata. Have expressed the same to the Union railway minister and he is looking into it, said Poonia.
They stay in other states but come to Rajastahn to cast their votes here. 'They all want to see the 'Lotus' bloom here and Modi return as Prime Minister in 2024 in Lok Sabha polls. And we will collectively work to ensure it. The people will weed out the Congress government in 2023,' he asserted.