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In Uneven Fight For ‘Heart’ of Mewar, BJP Banks on Modi Wave to Coast Through as Congress Pulls Out Big Guns

BJP feels that its primary weapon, one it is using quite effectively throughout the state, will see it through in Bhilwara as well - Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Suhas Munshi | News18.com

Updated:April 28, 2019, 11:47 AM IST
In Uneven Fight For ‘Heart’ of Mewar, BJP Banks on Modi Wave to Coast Through as Congress Pulls Out Big Guns
Congress leader Sachin Pilot holds a rally in Sawai Bhoj, an important pilgrimage site for Gujjars. (Photo Credit: Twitter)

Given the importance of Mewar region, which is said to hold the key to political dominance in Rajasthan, Congress is using every trick in the book to make a mark here. And in the heart of Mewar’s Bhilwara, the grand old party is facing its toughest battle.

To understand how unevenly the fight on the ground between Congress and the BJP is placed, consider the fact that not one big BJP leader held a rally here throughout the Lok Sabha campaign season.

Not one big rally was held here by the BJP even on the last day of campaigning while from Congress’ side, every big state leader has visited this constituency at least twice.

On Saturday too, Congress’ state president and deputy Chief Minister, Sachin Pilot, held a huge rally in Asind. While the BJP was content with holding just a small press conference by its state president Madan Lal Saini.

Even the venue for Pilot’s grand assembly - Sawai Bhoj - an important pilgrimage site for Gujjars, was carefully chosen keeping in mind reports of resentment among at least a section of Rajasthan’s Gujjars over Pilot not being appointed as the Chief Minister, and given the strong Gujjar influence in this Lok Sabha seat.

In this seat dominated by Brahmins, of which there are some 3.5 lakh residents, the next big community are the Gujjars which are estimated to be around 2.5 lakh. Jats with a population of around 2 lakh and SC+ST with around 6 lakh people are the other dominant communities here.

In an attempt to dispel concerns about factionalism within Congress, both Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot have held multiple rallies here, which is a region said to belong to the third power centre in Rajasthan’s Congress unit - CP Joshi’s. He in fact represented this very Lok Sabha constituency from ‘09-‘14.

Congress has also fielded a Brahmin candidate from here - Rampal Sharma - party’s district president, in an attempt to wean away a section of Brahmins away from BJP. Also a large section of Bhilwara, around 80% of it, is spread in rural areas where Congress has shown a remarkable improvement in recent elections.

Add to all this an old jinx on Bhilwara, that no MP from here wins more than two terms; BJP’s Subhash Baheria is looking to win a third term. For all these reasons Congress is, at least on paper, placed quite well.

However BJP feels that its primary weapon, one it is using quite effectively throughout the state, will see it through in Bhilwara as well - Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In the press conference he addressed in Bhilwara on Saturday, Saini without taking a breath talked about the achievements of Modi, from Swach Bharat to ‘Mission Shakti’, India’s anti-satellite missile test, pitting him against the entire Congress state leadership.

Baheria who boasts about his proximity to the RSS, enjoys support from both the party and Sangh. In the recent assembly elections held here - Bhilwara has eight assembly segments - Congress was able to win only three segments.

And in one of them - Bhilwara city - Congress candidate’s deposit was forfeited. In ‘14 polls Baheria had bagged nearly 60% of the votes in Bhilwara. Congress’ Ashok Chandna lagged by a massive 25% points behind.

By invoking Modi’s name, BJP’s repeat candidate from Bhilwara is, just like other BJP hopefuls in the rest of Mewar, perhaps side-stepping actual ground issues like mass migration due to lack of jobs and acute water shortage in the area, which is known for its water-guzzling textile mills. But for now mere mention of Narendra Modi seems to be amply serving his party’s cause in this region.

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| Edited by: Aakarshuk Sarna
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