In dusty villages, Pilot strikes the right notes

A convoy of cars announced the entry of Congress State president Sachin Pilot at Ganeti, a Jat-dominated village, near Tonk, around 4 p.m. Crowds of supporters surrounded his car, and Mr. Pilot was escorted into the village by security men, with the crowd following him as he hurriedly walked down the dusty lanes to a small ground where he was to deliver a short speech. On Wednesday, The Hindu caught up with Mr. Pilot as he toured one village after another off the road to Chhaan, which meets the highway to Kota, about 20 km from Tonk. Crowds would gather near the venue of each public meeting and local Congress workers would be putting in place novel ways of welcoming him. At Ganeti, the welcome entailed weighing the young Congress leader in fruits. A few kilometres away, at Khareda, a horse-drawn cart styled to look like a chariot led him from the narrow, metalled road to the large ground where the public meeting was slated. Local, national The themes of his short speeches spanned the local and the national. Speaking of unemployment and farmers’ suicides, and promising a farm loan waiver and a canal, the young leader accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of trying to turn electoral battles into a Hindu-Muslim issue to “hide” its failures in governance. “The BJP discusses Hindus, Muslims, temple, mosque and gotra (clan), but forgets to talk about water, roads and farmers,” he said at Ganeti. The BJP has fielded State Minister Yunus Khan, its sole Muslim candidate, from this constituency that has a good population of Muslims. Mr. Pilot took care to strike all the relevant notes during his speeches. At Khareda, he alleged that the ruling party had tossed the pagdi (headgear) of Kshatriyas in the air, seeking to make political capital on the question of whether the Rajputs — a dominant caste in the State with 8-10% population that has been traditionally BJP supporters — are uneasy with Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje. Minutes earlier, at Ganeti, he took a dig at Ms. Raje’s royal lineage: “It is the end of rule by those who live in palaces. The farmers and poor will rule the country.” Jostled by villagers at two public meetings, Mr. Pilot met this correspondent over a delayed lunch at Ganeti, with the traditional Rajasthani dish daal baati churma served on a mat in the courtyard of a house. “The MLAs will decide who will be Chief Minister,” he said above the cacophony of voices around, when asked whether he would be Chief Minister. While local Gujjars (members of Mr. Pilot’s caste), and many Muslims of the town, say that more Muslims will vote for him, some villagers say the contest will be interesting if Muslim votes in Tonk split. The Jats seem to be with the Congress, a party they have traditionally supported. Asked if a potential split in Muslim votes would make the contest keen, Mr. Pilot calmly replied that all electoral contests are serious contests.

Source : https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/in-dusty-villages-pilot-strikes-the-right-notes/article25628099.ece

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