In an interview with Moneycontrol, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore said he was confident not just of his own victory but also of the ruling BJP at the Centre.
The constituency of Jaipur Rural in Rajasthan, which goes to vote on May 6, is set to witness a battle between two former sports stars.
Sitting BJP MP Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, minister with independent charge of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) and sports, goes up against the Congress’ Krishna Poonia, an international gold medalist in discus throw, and a sitting MLA from Sadulpur in Rajasthan.
In an interview with Moneycontrol, Rathore said he was confident not just of his own victory but also of the ruling BJP at the Centre.
“We have done good work over the past five years. The Narendra Modi government provided a strong administration to the country. This time, we will get an even more decisive mandate.”
The Congress wrested control of the Rajasthan assembly in elections held this year, in a vote that was widely seen as one against the then ruling state BJP government. Analysts, however, say that when it comes to the Lok Sabha polls, Rajasthan voters view Narendra Modi’s performance at the Centre as favourable.
But Rathore refutes the charge that the BJP is seeking votes only in the name of PM Modi, thereby reducing the importance of the candidate.
“The BJP works as a team with PM Modi as its captain,” Rathore said. He also attacks the Congress. “In the opposition, there is neither any captain, nor any team.”
The Modi government seeks a second mandate after a sweeping victory in 2014 claiming that it has provided a strong government, even as its job creation record has come under attack.
Rathore said that the central government is developing an industrial belt between Delhi and Mumbai, which will further extend to the South. “This will go through our villages, where 70 percent of our population resides. The industrial belt will not only help in developing India, it will also give jobs to villagers in their hometowns and reduce migration to cities.”
Being the sports minister, Rathore was also involved in helping boost sports activities in his constituency.
"Rathore built a sports ground in almost every tehsil or highly populated area,” said a villager from Paota tehsil in Jaipur district.
The minister says the previously only cricket used to be popular in the region. “But now, kabaddi, wrestling and other sports are also attracting interest,” Rathore said.
Rathore claims that he also got the army to start a recruitment process in Jaipur.
He also attacked Congress chief Rahul Gandhi for conducting a rally recently, which he said destroyed the ground. “We had prepared a ground in Kotputli spending Rs 50-60 lakh. But the manner in which the rally was held destroyed the ground.”
He also said the recently-elected Congress government in the state was sitting on the list of people eligible for Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Yojana, through which the central government gives out income support of up to Rs 6,000 per year to poor farmers.
The Congress countered the BJP’s Kisan Samman Yojana by announcing its own ambitious NYAY scheme, through which it says it would hand out Rs 72,000 a year to poor households, should it come to power.
But Rathore says the Congress does need keep its promise. “It promised a farm loan waiver and the creation of an unemployment fund [during the assembly elections in December]. Both things have not happened.”
Rathore won the Jaipur Rural constituency by a huge 3 lakh margin against Congress’ heavyweight CP Joshi.But by fielding Poonia, a former sports star to boot, and a Jat – the constituency has 4.5 lakh Jat voters – is hoping to cause an upset.
India Union Budget 2019: What does Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman have up her sleeve? Click here for top and latest Budget news, views and analyses.