IANS Interview: Eyeing hat-trick from Jodhpur, Jal Shakti minister Shekhawat blames Gehlot govt for keeping people thirsty

Jaipur: Assuring that a ‘double-engine government’ at the Centre and state will resolve the water crisis in the Jodhpur constituency, two-time MP Gajendra Singh Shekhawat
has said that the BJP will connect every house in rural Rajasthan with a clean tap water connection in the next 18 months.

With water turning into a major election issue, Shekhawat, in an interview with IANS, blamed the previous Congress government for taps turning dry in Jodhpur.

As he takes on Congress’ Karan Singh Uchiyarda – a Sachin Pilot loyalist – in a clash between two Rajputs, the Union Water Resources Minister promises that the ‘Har Ghar Jal’ scheme initiated by PM Narendra Modi will bring in massive reforms in rural drinking water supply.

Excerpts from the interview:

IANS. Water has turned into a major issue for the Jodhpur Lok Sabha elections with the opposition highlighting that there is a water crisis in the Jal Shakti minister’s constituency. What do you have to say about these allegations?

Gajendra Shekhawat: Water is a big issue not only in Jodhpur but throughout Rajasthan. But, whose responsibility was it really to deliver water? Water is a state subject in the constitutional system. In 2019, the Honourable Prime Minister announced the Jal Jeevan Mission from the ramparts of the Red Fort. His resolve was that by 2024, we will provide drinking water to every household by providing tap connection.

When this scheme was started in the country, only 16% of the houses had tap connections. Despite the Covid pandemic, more than 75% of the houses have water connections today with 12 states having achieved the target of 100%. More than 90% work was completed in most of the states, but in Rajasthan, the scheme became a victim of Ashok Gehlot’s politics.

Even after allocating Rs 27,000 crore, the previous Congress government did not work. Only Rs 6000 crores were spent in the last four years. In that too, a scam of Rs 1500 crore was revealed. If anyone has committed the sin of keeping the people of the state thirsty, it is the Ashok Gehlot government. Now, there is a double-engine government and our resolve is that in the next one-and-a-half years, we will connect every rural house in Rajasthan with a tap connection and provide clean water.

We have got Rs 4400 crore sanctioned for Jodhpur itself. The PM has promised that ‘Har Ghar Jal’ will be a reality soon, no matter what the cost is. In Jodhpur, the Rajiv Gandhi Lift Canal Project was delayed by the Gehlot government. Also, no efforts were made to clean the water of the Jojari River which has been flowing polluted water to the city. It was only after the BJP government was formed that the foundation stone of the restoration project of the Jojari River was laid in March this year.

IANS: Will the Sanjivani scam make a dent on BJP’s prospects in Jodhpur?

Gajendra Shekhawat: I never had any connection with Sanjivani, nor do I have it today. Ashok Gehlot ji played politics and tried to defame me to avenge his son’s defeat in the Lok Sabha polls of 2019. Sanjivani has no influence in Jodhpur and BJP’s lotus is going to bloom with a huge majority.

IANS: There have been some reports of infighting taking place within the BJP in Jodhpur. What do you have to say about it?

Gajendra Shekhawat: This is a propaganda being spread by the opposition. BJP is a family and we all are its members. We have discussions like in any other family here. There is no such thing as mutual differences.

IANS: There has been a dip in the voting percentage in the first phase in Rajasthan. Congress has predicted a difficult road ahead, what is your opinion?

Gajendra Shekhawat: Low turnout in the first phase is a matter of concern for everyone. The public should participate actively in democracy. Low voting does not mean that BJP has suffered a loss. Under the able leadership of Modi ji, the BJP is once again going to score a hat-trick in Rajasthan with a huge majority. We trust our work.

IANS: Congress says they are winning the Barmer, Churu, Dausa, Jhunjhunu, and Karauli Dholpur seats. Also, there is an anti-incumbency wave in seats like Jodhpur and Kota. How do you see the entire scenario?

Gajendra Shekhawat: It is only the opposition which has been saying this. There is nothing like this on the ground. The opposition made similar claims in 2019 also but we all know what happened. People recognise Modi Ji’s work. Like in 2014 and 2019, this time also Bharatiya Janata Party will win all 25 seats in Rajasthan. We will score a hat-trick of victory.

IANS: Will the BJP cross the 400 mark, overall?

Gajendra Shekhawat: Even in 2014, when Modi ji had said that we will bring 272 seats, the opposition used to say that this is not possible. In 2019, he gave the slogan of 300 seats and even then the opposition expressed doubts. Modi ji has developed every segment without discrimination. The NDA will win more than 400 seats.


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