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INDIA bloc will form next govt; Cong to get more seats than BJP in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh: Pilot

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Rae Bareli, May 14 (PTI) Asserting that people are voting for change, senior Congress leader Sachin Pilot on Tuesday exuded confidence that an INDIA bloc government would be formed at the Centre and claimed his party will get more seats than the BJP in both Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.

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The AICC general secretary in-charge of Chhattisgarh and former Rajasthan deputy chief minister said there was a "sea change" from the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, with the people voting for real change this time.

While Rajasthan has 25 Lok Sabha seats, Chhattisgarh has 11 parliamentary segments. The Congress had drawn a blank last time in Rajasthan and won only two seats from Chhattisgarh.

In an interview with PTI while campaigning here for Rahul Gandhi, Pilot also accused the BJP of seeking votes in the name of religion and said it was doing so as it could not ask for mandate on its performance.

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"It is absolutely incorrect to ask for votes in the name of religion. The Ram temple (in Ayodhya) was constructed with the order of the Supreme Court which all of us respected. We have always welcomed it but to seek votes in the name of religion is unbecoming of anybody, especially the ruling party," the Congress general secretary said.

Urging the BJP to refrain from seeking votes in the name of religion, Pilot said, "this shows that they (BJP) can't ask for votes on performance, delivery, fulfillment of promises, and that is why they have to resort to this politics of mangalsutra, mandir and masjid and Hindus and Muslims etc." "I think people have moved beyond this and they must talk about real issues and keep religion out of politics," he asserted.

Talking about his assessment of the ground situation after four rounds of polling, Pilot said his sense is that the Congress and the INDIA bloc candidates are "surging ahead".

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"That is also reflected in the speeches of the BJP leaders. Top BJP leaders are now making outlandish statements and I get a sense that they have understood that people have voted against them," Pilot said.

This is an election for change as people have had a government of the same party for 10 years and nothing has been delivered, he said.

"In the four phases of polls that we have had, the Congress and the INDIA bloc are way ahead of the BJP and the NDA," the Congress leader said.

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Pilot said he is absolutely confident that the "ground is slipping from under the BJP's feet".

"Come June 4, the INDIA bloc parties plus the Congress will get enough members of Parliament to form a government. The NDA has been given a chance for two consecutive terms and now people want change and the INDIA bloc will get a required majority on June 4," Pilot said.

Asked about his assessment of his home state Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, he said, "There is a bipolar contest between the BJP and the Congress. In both the states, we will get more seats than the BJP." On whether the Congress is headed for double digits tally in Rajasthan after drawing a blank in the last two Lok Sabha elections, Pilot said, "absolutely, we will get more seats than the BJP." "There are 25 seats in Rajasthan. Last time we did not get any seats. This time there is a huge change and I can see the atmosphere '“ our campaign was better, our candidates were better, our manifesto was better, I think we will get more seats than the BJP in Rajasthan," he reiterated.

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On Prime Minister Narendra Modi's remarks that the Congress will get fewer seats than the age of Rahul Gandhi, Pilot said this kind of random assessment about numbers has no bearing, as ultimately it is the people of India who decide who will get how many seats.

"The BJP has stopped talking about '400 paar' because they have understood that they are on the backfoot, people want a change. Young people, farmers, cities, villages, everyone has decided that they have given them two chances and nothing has come out of it. Therefore people have made up their minds (for change)," he said.

Pilot accused the BJP of making baseless allegations against the Congress.

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"The prime minister has himself talked about black money being transported in big tempos, to a party. They should go analyze, assess and investigate. They had promised that they are going to eradicate black money and corruption, when you yourself confess to the statement that has been made, it is very surprising. We are all waiting to see what action is taken on the allegations the PM himself has made," he said.

Pilot said that on the other hand, the Congress' manifesto speaks for itself and people have liked what it has said.

The BJP has not been able to match the Congress' governance track record, he said and added that his party's historical background suggests that when it says something, it means it.

"We will bring a law for MSP purchase, we will give 30 lakh government jobs to people of this country, we are going to increase the MGNREGA payments to Rs 400 a day. I think what has happened now is that when four phases are over, they (BJP) are running out of ideas and making baseless allegations against Mr Rahul Gandhi, Congress or the previous prime minister Manmohan Singh, but it will not pay any dividends," he said.

The BJP must come forward and debate on real issues and talk about things that matter to the voter and that is what it is avoiding, Pilot said.

The Congress on Monday claimed the BJP's graph is on a "relentless downward trajectory" and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's campaign is getting "more desperate".

The fourth phase of the seven-phase elections concluded on Monday. The counting if votes will be held on June 4. PTI ASK ZMN

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