In unlikely collaborations, rivals Congress and BJP came together at two places in Rajasthan to thwart local Bhartiya Tribal Party (BTP) and Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) leaders in the elections for zila pramukhs and panchayat samiti pradhans.
The BTP, a Congress ally which supported Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot during the revolt in his party earlier this year, is upset that the ruling party candidates chose BJP over it in the tribal Dungarpur district, where the small outfit is trying to expand its influence.
On Friday, it threatened to snap ties with the Congress in the state. Similarly, the opposition BJP did not help its ally, Nagaur MP Hanuman Beniwal's RLP, bag a village head's post in Nagaur district. Instead, its candidates went for an independent nominee, supported also by the Congress.
In Dungarpur zila parishad, the newly elected Congress members voted Thursday for the BJP nominee for the pramukh's post in the district board, thwarting a BTP-backed candidate's bid. Thirteen of the 27 seats in Dungarpur zila parishad were won by BTP-supported independent candidates. The BJP got six seats and the Congress eight.
The BTP needed just one Congress member's vote for a nominee backed by it for the district board head's post. Instead, its ally supported BJP member Surya Ahari, who had filed her nomination papers as an independent candidate for the zila pramukh's post. The state assembly has two BTP MLAs, who went with the Congress in the last Rajya Sabha election.
The tribal-dominated party had fielded its members as independent candidates in the elections for panchayat Samiti and zila parishad members. BTP state president Velaram Ghoghra said the party is now set to snap its links with the Congress over the development.
We had supported the Congress government at the time of need and now we were expecting reciprocation in zila pramukh elections. We just needed one member to form the board but the Congress surprisingly ditched us and joined hands with the BJP, Ghoghra said. The party is now going to cut ties with the Congress government. A party executive meeting will be held in a couple of days and a formal decision will be announced, he told PTI.
Rajasthan BJP president Satish Poonia claimed that it was local politics playing out. The decision was left to the local leaders who decided as per the local political circumstances, he said.
In Nagaur's Khinwsar panchayat samiti, RLP was just one short of the halfway mark to get its candidate elected to the pradhan's post. In the 31-member body, the RLP won 15 seats, the Congress eight and BJP five. Three seats went to independent candidates. Here, the Congress, the BJP and the independents got together to get an independent member elevated to the post. Had the BJP members voted for its ally, the RLP nominee would have won.
The results for the elections for panchayat samiti and zila parishad members were announced on Tuesday and Wednesday. The elected members then voted for the post of pramukhs in zila parishads and pradhans in panchayat samitis on Thursday.
Twelve BJP, five Congress and three independent candidates — including Surya Ahari in Dungarpur — were elected to the posts of pramukh in 20 zila parishads for which results were announced on Thursday night BJP candidates were elected to the posts of pradhan in 98 of the 221 panchayat samitis across 21 districts. Congress candidates won 97 posts. In Tonk panchayat samiti, where no party got a mandate, the Congress managed to get the pradhan's post with the backing of three independent candidates, who had pledged support to Congress leader and Tonk MLA Sachin Pilot.