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On Rocky Road in Rajasthan, BJP Hands PM Modi the Wheel for Last Lap

In the next two days, PM Narendra Modi will be holding rallies in Marwar and Shekhawati region, which together send more than 60 MLAs to the 200-member state Assembly.

Sumit Pande | News18.com

Updated:December 3, 2018, 1:59 PM IST
On Rocky Road in Rajasthan, BJP Hands PM Modi the Wheel for Last Lap
File photo of PM Narendra Modi. (Getty Images)

Jodhpur: Fighting a tough battle to retain power in Rajasthan, the BJP is banking on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for impetus in the last leg of the campaign ahead of polling this Friday.

In the next two days, the PM will be holding rallies in Marwar and Shekhawati region, which together send more than 60 MLAs to the 200-member state Assembly.

“We have seen both in 2008 and 2013 Assembly polls… Modiji’s rally in Jodhpur helped turn the elections in our favour,” said state BJP executive member Rajendra Borana.

Marwar division, with headquarters in Jodhpur, comprises Assembly segments in six districts — Jodhpur, Nagaur, Jalore, Barmer, Pali and Sirohi.

“PM will hold one rally each on Monday and Tuesday. We may even plan one on the last day of campaign,” said a BJP leader involved in the party’s campaign in Rajasthan.

The BJP’s show of strength in Jodhpur on Monday is being seen as an attempt by the party to send across a strong message ahead of polling this week.

For over a week now, the BJP has bought advertising space across Jodhpur with billboards conspicuously advertising PM’s rally at Ravan Ka Chabutra on Monday afternoon.

Jodhpur is also part of the great arc running from north-east to south-west of the state where Jats have substantive population in pockets. From Sikar to Barmer bordering Pakistan, the community can in many constituencies make or mar elections. Both local outfits and the Congress have been aggressively attempting to reach out to Jats in this region. The Prime Minister’s rally and his message from Jodhpur thus assume importance.

The local anti-incumbency in Rajasthan outweighs the one against the central government. Prime Minister Modi’s personal credibility remains intact. Roop Singh, who runs a tea shop on the outskirts of Bikaner, openly admits he is a BJP supporter. He has in the past voted for the BJP.

“But what worries me is that 30 to 40 percent Rajputs in my village who have been with the party since Jan Sangh days may either not vote at all or vote against the BJP,” he said.

The encounter of gangster Anand Pal, from the Ravanna Rajput community, last year by the state police is a silent disruption the BJP is bracing itself for.

It is this core constituency of the BJP that the Prime Minister will be seeking to mobilise in the last three days of the campaign.

The Congress accordingly has also made tactical adjustments from the campaign it ran in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh where the local BJP leadership and CM nominees were relatively popular.

In the two states where polling has already been held, the Congress went soft on both Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Raman Singh while directly targeting Modi.

In Rajasthan, the Congress leadership has chosen to attack Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje instead.

The leitmotif in the Congress campaign is that the Rajasthan Chief Minister is “arrogant”. It has repeatedly said that had the BJP CM nominee kept open a channel of dialogue with the people, she wouldn’t have had to kowtow before her party’s central leadership.

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| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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