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It’s 30 Years vs 3 Months in Jhalrapatan as Manvendra Banks on Rajput ‘Anger’ to Defeat Vasundhara Raje

It’s 30 Years vs 3 Months in Jhalrapatan as Manvendra Banks on Rajput ‘Anger’ to Defeat Vasundhara Raje

Manvendra Singh's candidature is seen as an attempt by the Congress to reach out to the Rajput constituency both in and outside Jhalawar.

Jhalawar: Banking on 30 years of association with Jhalawar, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje Scindhia is seeking re-election to the state Assembly pitted against Congress candidate Manvendra Singh.

Singh, an MLA from Sheo in Barmer district, joined Congress just a few months ahead of the state polls. The son of senior BJP leader and former Union minister Jaswant Singh, he has been fielded against Raje from Jhalrapatan in an apparent bid to woo the Rajput community—a key vote bank of the BJP in the state. Manvendra candidature as such is aimed to reach out to this constituency both in and outside Jhalawar.

"Manvendra Singh is a parachute candidate here and he is misleading people in Jhalawar in the name of caste. The common voter has had a 30-year-old relationship with CM Raje. She doesn't talk about caste or community. For her there are only two castes: woman and man. I guarantee she will win by 1 lakh votes," says Sanjay Jain, district BJP president in a reference to Congress chief Rahul Gandhi’s speech at Bikaner where he had promised not to field outsiders or ‘parachute candidates’ at the cost of loyal party workers.

Raje won from Jhalrapatan in 2013 with a margin of more than 60,000 votes.

"I might be a political outsider here, but this is my home too. The people have embraced me," Manvendra said during a village-to-village tour in the constituency. He addressed farmers and said the Congress had released a farmer-friendly manifesto.

Before taking over as Chief Minister for the first time in 2003, Raje was a Lok Sabha MP from Jhalawar for five terms. Jhalrapatan is an Assembly segment in the constituency which she has represented for three terms now. Her son Dushyant Singh has been elected to the Lok Sabha thrice from the seat.

Thirty-year-old Ganpat Lal, a farmer from Ramti in Raje’s constituency, however is not satisfied with the power distribution in the rural areas of this VIP seat. "We only get six hours of electricity every day, and the authorities cut down two hours from that quota as well. So we are left with three to four hours of electricity in a day," Lal said.

At the release of the BJP manifesto last week, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in presence of CM Raje blamed the Congress government for the mismanagement of the state power corporation.

Another villager Ishwar Singh says since the implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST), the rates of dhaniya (coriander) and masoor daal (red lentils) have gone down.

BJP district president Sanjay Jain disagrees. "She is the first CM in the country who has waived loans worth Rs 50,000 for every farmer. And she has also waived Rs 833 per month from electricity bills for farmers too, which amounts to almost Rs 10,000 a year. Minimum support prices for urad and lehsun have been enhanced too. In the future, wheat and soya bean support prices will also be decided," Jain said.