“BJP will not even get 200 seats in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls,” senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh told The Quint in an exclusive interview ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
Singh spoke about various issues including the Congress’ alliance with SP-BSP in UP and AAP in Delhi, and the Balakot airstrikes. He also spoke about his candidature from Bhopal, a seat which has been a Bharatiya Janata Party stronghold for over two decades.
Speaking about the Lok Sabha polls, Singh asserted that even if there is no Gathbandhan between the Congress and SP-BSP, “BJP will still not get the seats they are eyeing.”
‘Fighting Only to Win’
Digvijaya Singh has been fielded as the Congress candidate from Bhopal, and according to unconfirmed media reports it is being alleged that the BJP is strategising to field three-time Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan from the seat.
Responding to this, Singh said that he has taken up this challenge and “I am fighting only to win.” He added that the Congress hasn’t won the seat since 1985.
‘There Could Be a Post-Poll Alliance With SP-BSP, If Needed’
Singh also spoke about the alliance between the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party in Uttar Pradesh. He said the two parties had already decided that they would contest the polls together and they just left two seats for the Congress.
Terming it an insult for the grand old party, Singh said there could be a post-poll alliance, if needed.
On Modi Government
Speaking about Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Singh questioned the PM’s Gujarat model of development and hit out at him for trying to replicate that nationwide.
“He has talked about the Gujarat model of development. What is that,” Singh asked rhetorically. He further said the model talks about “spreading communal hatred.”
He added that there have been other BJP leaders too, referring to Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Singh said, “Vajpayee was also there but we didn’t have any problem because he was a democrat. Modi has been saying ‘Congress mukt bharat,’ which is against the idea of democracy.
Speaking on the income guarantee scheme NYAY, announced by Congress, Singh spoke on how it will benefit the poor.
“About 40 percent of our population is landless and they are roughly the population which is below the poverty line. The implementation of MNREGA has shown us the benefits of putting money in the hands of the poor as it increases their purchasing power,” he said.
When asked about the BJP’s scheme for the farmers, he said it is not a targeted one and does not benefit the landless farmers.
On Equation Between Congress & Other Opposition Parties
The senior Congress leader also expressed hope that after the elections, all the Opposition parties will eventually come together.
“No Opposition party will get more seats than Congress. In that scenario, Rahul Gandhi’s accommodative style of leadership will come into play. I believe, all non-BJP forces will come together after the elections.”
Asked whether the fragmentation within the Opposition will confuse the voters, Singh said, if the people have decided to vote out the BJP, they will figure out who can defeat BJP in their respective seats.
Will BJP Gain From the Pulwama Incident?
Singh questioned the government’s failure to pay heed to the intelligence inputs ahead of the Pulwama attack.
Refusing to concede that the Pulwama incident might have handed over a political advantage to the BJP ahead of the elections, he said: “Why did the incident happen in the first place? Why couldn’t the government act upon the intelligence inputs? Why was such a huge convoy of CRPF jawans sent by road without sanitising the route?”
He also said it is unfair to call the Congress ‘friends of Pakistan’ for raising these questions.
On RSS’ Ideology
Singh reminisced how during his early days in politics itself, he had figured out that the RSS’ ideology did not suit him, following which he joined the Congress.
“In my initial days in politics, I was approached by people from the Jan Sangh, to join their party. But in a few days, I realised that I cannot possibly join them and hence joined the Congress. In a diverse country like India, there is no place for the Sangh which asks you to put blinkers towards everything, but one particular idea,”he said.