The clock is ticking fast as Uttar Pradesh, the state supposed to be the springboard to New Delhi, readies to go to the hustings. The stage is set for a fiery political contest with the Congress emerging as one of the heavyweights in the fray, thanks to Rahul Gandhi`s rallies.
Congress leader Jitin Prasada, one of the members of Rahul`s youth squad and also the Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways, in an exclusive chat with Zeenews.com`s Swati Chaturvedi on her chat show Kahiye Janab, talks about Congress, Rahul Gandhi and the win in UP polls, that he is so sure of!
Swati : Welcome to Kahiye Janab! Today we have with us, Congress leader Jitin Prasada, one of the members of Rahul`s youth brigade. So, Jitin, to start with, please tell us how is Congress faring in UP?
Jitin: I have been travelling throughout Uttar Pradesh with Rahul ji, where his rallies have received a fantastic response. As far as Congress is concerned, the electorate of UP has an unprecedented enthusiasm. I can claim, the Congress will fare quiet well this time in UP.
Swati: Congress is not known for its leaders taking huge risks. So, what’s your take on Rahul Gandhi putting his entire career and future at stake for UP polls?
Jitin: Rahul Gandhi is a key Congress leader and he believes in the motto - lead from the front. Always prepared to take up new challenges, Rahul ji is an optimist and works quiet hard. His efforts will surely fetch success in UP.
Swati: Given the political wilderness that Congress has been in UP, for years now, what is the yardstick of your success?
Jitin: As far as the success of Congress in UP is concerned, let me tell you that according to the statistics in 2009, Congress has been pulling in 18-20% vote share. Moreover, a total of 22 MPs from Congress were elected in 2009 Lok Sabha elections.
Swati: But Congress itself has been non-existent in UP? Hasn`t Rahul staked his entire career for UP polls?
Jitin: How can the Congress be extinct from UP when a whopping 22 MPs were elected from there and this has been made possible by Rahul ji who started the campaign in 2007 and in two years yielded this result. Rahul ji`s constant endeavours will surely yield the fruits and in 2012, the poll results will be astounding with the Congress in majority in UP.
Swati: (interrupts) But, Congress can, to the maximum, merely reach No. 3 or No. 4 strata as...
Jitin: (interrupting) Congress party number one! You can take my word for this and mark today`s date as I assert that in 2012, Congress will form the government in UP.
Swati: Are these mere Mungeri Lal ke haseen sapney (castles in the air)?
Jitin: With 22 MPs in 2009 Lok Sabha elections, we surprised everyone. 2012 will be even more astonishing! Congress is slated to win.
Swati: What about the increasing proximities with the Samajwadi Party? With Akhilesh Yadav saying that alliance would be decided after the polls, will Samajwadi Party be your `Plan B`?
Jitin: There is no such plan. With Rahul`s popular rallies stoking the public attention, SP leaders are in panic and spreading such rumours to create a disillusion in the public psyche that Congress will pair with SP post alliance.
Swati: Can you claim that Congress will not form any post-poll alliance with SP?
Jitin: We will not need any post-poll alliance. The pre-poll alliance with RLD will continue. Congress will conquer UP polls on its own and I categorically rule out any post poll alliance with Samajwadi Party.
Swati: So far, you have just been chanting Rahul`s name. What are the salient issues in UP and what has Congress been doing about them?
Jitin: We have the main issues outlined clearly before us and these are - employment, farmers, corruption, minorities and development. Congress has never made hollow promises or manifestations. For employment, we brought in MNREGA. For farmers too, it was Congress that thought of loan waiver. As far as corruption is concerned, we took all the necessary steps to bring in a Lokpal. All those, who were corrupt in Congress, are in jail now, but BJP which makes tall claims of being honest, welcomed with bouquets and hugs a leader as corrupt as Babu Singh Kushwaha.
Swati: MNREGA, minority quota etc, these are the same old lollipops you are trying to lure the UP electorate with? What`s new that you would provide them with?
Jitin: We will emancipate the people of Uttar Pradesh from 22 years of betrayal. We will create employment opportunities in the state so that no one is compelled to migrate to other states to earn a living.
Swati: Rahul Gandhi, in a rally, introduced Sam Pitroda to the masses, by saying - he is a badhai (carpenter caste). Was it necessary to mention the caste? How long will you keep playing caste card?
Jitin: Rahul ji mentioned the caste only to highlight the fact that caste doesn`t matter when it comes to development. A person, no matter how lower a caste he belongs to, can excel and contribute to the society.
Swati: Rahul Gandhi is known to have said that people from UP beg in other states. Would you pull voters by tagging them as beggars?
Jitin: The fact is that the employment scenario in UP is very grim. People over here are talented but due to poor conditions in the native state, they migrate to other states for employment. Rahul ji has been telling the voters to elect Congress in power so that we could change the whole employment system in next 5-10 years.
Swati: Rahul Gandhi these days repeats the tale of a magic elephant eating up the public money. Do you think the voters would get lured by such comments?
Jitin: The people of UP have been cheated all these years. As far as development is concerned, UP is in tatters. Where are the schools? There are no healthcare facilities, no infrastructure.
Swati: What, in your view, would be the fate of the Congress and Rahul in 2012 in UP?
Jitin: I maintain that Congress will register a win on its own and Rahul ji`s efforts will yield the results.
Swati: What next? Rahul as PM?
Jitin: Yes, why not.
Adaptation By Supriya Jha