Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore: ‘Show me one MP, except PM, who has invested half as me in sports, I’ll resign’

Deep Mukherjee
Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore

In an interview with Deep Mukherjee, Union Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, who is seeking re-election from Jaipur Rural, speaks about the work he has done and whether the loss in the Assembly polls will affect the party's fortune in Rajasthan during the Lok Sabha elections.

When you won in 2014, the BJP was in power in Rajasthan after a landslide victory. Last year in the state elections, the BJP could win only two of the eight Assembly segments in Jaipur Rural. Does that worry you?

State elections are fought on localised issues. The voter is now clear between an Assembly election and a national one and his/her response is according to that. Now, when we are going in for national elections, any opposition party basing its confidence on the 2018 elections is fooling itself.

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As a sitting MP, what do you see as the poll issues in Jaipur Rural?

Unfortunately for India, the governance in Congress regime for decades has been very poor and therefore the delivery of basic amenities is constantly an issue. In 2014, the point was explaining that there is a possibility of better governance. In 2019, the continuation of the very high quality of governance is the issue, along with delivery of amenities. We are getting a very positive response.

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The Congress has fielded former Olympian and Commonwealth gold medallist Krishna Poonia against you. How do you see this clash between her and you as another Olympian?

It's a battle between a corrupt and a transparent government. Our fight is against the mentality of the Congress, which is appeasement, contracts going to their cronies, weakening of the armed forces and nation, and the lack of delivery of services, accountability.

Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore is the sitting MP from Jaipur rural. Krishna Poonia, an MLA from Sadulpur, will be contesting against him. (File)

The Congress cites lack of drinking water in and number of accidents on the NH8 as your failures.

Lack of water is an issue for the entire state. The previous BJP government had prepared a detailed project report (DPR) of Rs 40,000 crore to bring water. Now it's a question of executing the DPR. The Prime Minister has already said he will work on water beyond 2019 and, by 2024, we promise, every house will have drinking water from tap… Our work is proof that the problem will be solved.

About accidents, if the Congress uses this, it would harm itself. NH8 was executed during their time… thousands of crores have been paid to the company as compensation due to a wrongly prepared MoU… We have finished the incomplete work. I agree accidents happen, but tell me who is responsible? Very bad planning.

Poonia says that as the first sportsman to be appointed as sports minister, she hoped you would improve sports facilities in your constituency.

Before 2014, there was no platform for sports events in Jaipur Rural. Jaipur Mahakhel was started by me and for three years we have had tournaments from villages up to the Lok Sabha constituency level. We have fantastic awards like motorbikes and laptops… All these events are the results of efforts by teachers, ex-servicemen and volunteers. I have built indoor stadiums, mini-stadiums, fitness centres, open gyms… If you show me one MP, leaving aside the Prime Minister, who has invested half of this in sports, I will resign.

The BJP suffered major setbacks in the recent state polls. Will this impact the 2019 polls?

If you are looking at the three electoral losses, also see the 16 states where the Congress was wiped out. You will have your answer.

Jaipur Rural has a large number of Jat voters. Will Poonia being a Jat affect your chances?

The hallmark of the Congress is lies, loot and pision of the country. Their strategy is to pide and rule. Our work is uniting the country. This is a national election and people are very aware and extremely nationalistic.