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Sachin Pilot claims few switching sides won't impact INDIA bloc

Sachin Pilot claims few switching sides wont impact INDIA bloc

New Delhi: Following some INDIA bloc members switching sides to the NDA, Congress leader Sachin Pilot stated on Sunday that the opposition alliance is "strong" and that the BJP is attempting a "frantic rejig" of the political landscape due to concerns about the coalition's aggregate strength.

In an interview, Pilot also stated that West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC Chief Mamata Banerjee is a strong supporter of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) and expressed optimism that seat-sharing talks with her party will yield a positive outcome.

He also said the BJP talking about 370 seats for itself and 400-plus for the NDA was more of "bravado and rhetoric" than a practical assessment on the ground.

As the Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra travels through Chhattisgarh, the AICC general secretary in charge of the state dismissed suggestions that the yatra was adversely affecting the poll preparations of the party and asserted that talks for seat-sharing with allies were going on simultaneously.

"As we speak, we are finalising seat-sharing agreements with most of our allies in different states. So it is not a question of either/or. The yatra is going on but other things are being handled by the AICC leadership and the state in-charges. The Congress president (Mallikarjun Kharge) is himself overseeing all these meetings and negotiations that are being held," Pilot said.

"Our attempt is to make sure we fight unitedly. Yes we have had some that have left our alliance but largely the alliance is intact and very soon we will be announcing the seat sharing and a future roadmap that the alliance will come up with," the Congress general secretary said.

Asked about suggestions that the INDIA bloc is unravelling with JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar crossing over to the NDA, RLD's Jayant Chaudhary's imminent switch-over and Banerjee attacking the Congress, Pilot said, "Look at the amount of partners that left the NDA '? Akali Dal, Shiv Sena, PDP, AIADMK. So the number of those leaving the NDA is far larger than some of those people who may not be with us today."

"But the INDIA bloc is strong and Mamata Banerjee is a part of the INDIA alliance, we are having discussions with the TMC," the 46-year-old leader said.

He said Nitish Kumar's switch over to the NDA raises the question of credibility also and he would have to answer to the people of Bihar when he goes to polls.

"People may come and go, one or two moving sides will not make an impact on the effort we are putting in as the INDIA bloc."

A one-on-one contest between the INDIA bloc and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is tilted in favour of the opposition coalition, Pilot claimed.

"I can assure you that with regards to the INDIA bloc the final outcome will be a positive one. Every political party has its own turf to protect. A regional party will not want to cede too much space, as a national party, we also have an obligation to our state units. So there is always going to be some give and take," he said.

"We have to be mindful of the sensitivities of each of our partners but the final objective of the alliance is to come together and present an alternative to the country, and we will achieve that," he said.

The INDIA bloc is "strong" and very soon it will announce the seat-sharing arrangements in different states, he said, adding the alliance will pose a "formidable challenge" to the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections.

An arithmetic calculation will show that the vote share of the INDIA bloc was over 60 per cent in the 2019 elections and that of the NDA was around 35 per cent, therefore, they are trying to make sure the INDIA bloc does not come together whether it is by using central agencies, misinformation, propaganda or pressure, he said.

"Largely all this is futile because the INDIA bloc is strong. Mamata Banerjee is part of the alliance and her primary objective is to defeat the BJP. Therefore, we will work together and find a way forward," Pilot said.

He said there is a cause for worry for the BJP and therefore "this frantic rejigging of the political landscape is happening".

On Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent statement in Parliament that the BJP will get 370 seats and the NDA over 400, Pilot said Parliament is for discussing policy and legislation but that platform was used to make a purely political speech on the eve of the general elections.

"It was a sort of bravado and chest-thumping. I think the people of India will decide and no election is won or lost till the last vote is counted. I have great faith in the wisdom and objectivity of our voters, they know the difference between truth and propaganda," he said.

The INDIA bloc coming together is certainly a worry for the BJP and this thing about "300 paar, 400 paar" is more rhetoric than a true reflection of reality, he said.

Pilot claimed that the BJP's poll plank is very unclear as it is not going to the people with its 10-year report card or with a blueprint on how to deal with "record unemployment, sky-rocketing inflation, agrarian distress and the ever-increasing gap between the rich and poor".

"They have not come through on their commitments for doubling farmers' income, providing jobs, legal framework for MSP, or on eradicating black money," he said.

With PTI inputs

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