Jodhpur: Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot Sunday said the 2019 Lok Sabha elections are about saving democracy, as he accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of following "dictators" in preaching nationalism
He said people will not be "lured and fooled" by BJP's talk of nationalism and will change the government at the Centre for good of the country
Rajasthan, where the Congress ousted the BJP from power in the assembly elections last year, has 25 Lok Sabha seats out of which 13 are going to polls Monday, and the rest 12 will vote on May 6.
"Democracy is in danger under the Modi government. Saving democracy is our biggest challenge in this election. To save democracy, people should understand the allurements of BJP and not get misled by their false promises," Gehlot told PTI in an interview
Training his guns on the PM, Gehlot alleged Modi is "misleading" people in the name of nationalism. "Every dictator in the world used nationalism for his benefits. Modi is following their footsteps by raising nationalism as the only issue. People should be cautious of this trap."
The Congress veteran added that the BJP got only 31 per cent of the votes polled in the 2014 general elections. "Does this mean that the 69 per cent who did not vote for Modi are not patriots? Modi is questioning their patriotism," Gehlot noted
The Rajasthan CM said that BJP candidates are contesting only in the name of Modi, without talking about development or any other issue
"BJP MPs should also talk about their failures to fulfill the promises the party made in the 2014 elections -- two crore jobs a year, eliminating terrorism, Rs 15 lakh in every bank account, retrieving all black money stashed abroad, among so many other things," he said, adding "The entire country should understand their (BJP's) jumlebaazi (rhetoric) and vote out this government."
The state's all 25 Lok Sabha seats were won by the BJP in 2014.
The CM's son, Vaibhav Gehlot, is in the fray opposite Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat from Jodhpur, which is one of the seats going to polls Monday
Accusing Modi of politicising the armed forces, the CM said former prime minister Indira Gandhi won the 1971 Bangladesh war but she never bragged about the victory
"There has always been a smooth transition of power in the country from one democratically elected government to the other and no government has ever politicised the Forces like the BJP. The way they have politicised the Army is dangerous for the country," the Rajasthan CM said
"Who gave PM Modi the right to criticise an elected CM? He is insulting the seven crore strong electorate of Rajasthan by doing so. It's unimaginable that the PM can fall to this level to win one election," Gehlot said
At a rally in Jodhpur recently, Modi had attacked the Rajasthan CM, saying Gehlot is "roaming around in the streets to save his son" and not the Congress.
"I have always moved around in the lanes and by-lanes of Jodhpur in my 40 years of political career," said Gehlot, who was first elected as an MP in 1980 from Jodhpur and went on to represent the seat five times
Gehlot said Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah are launching personal attack on him only to "avenge" BJP's defeat in the assembly polls and also for the challenge he posed to Modi in his home turf Gujarat in the 2017 state elections there
"Since we had challenged Modi and company in Gujarat in 2017 they are trying to take a revenge now," alleged Gehlot, who was AICC general secretary in charge of Gujarat when the state went to polls that year.
The Congress had put up a strong fight in the polls which BJP won narrowly
Asked about the much-touted opposition unity, Gehlot said, "The BJP is mistaken if it thinks the opposition unity has dissipated. There are prepoll alliances and there are post-poll alliances. Post-poll alliances will happen. One thing is clear: the Modi government is going."
Gehlot said issues that will determine the future of the nation are economy, unemployment, farmer welfare, and not the "divisive politics practised by the BJP.