Padmaavat Row, Environment Issues, New Outfits: Why Rajasthan Battle is Not the Usual This Time
While the exit polls have handed an edge to Congress in Rajasthan, they have predicted a close contest in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
With just a day left for the results of assembly elections, BJP and Congress are set for a head-to-head battle in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. While the exit polls have handed an edge to Congress in Rajasthan, they have predicted a close contest in the other two.
Ahead of the counting, News18.com looks at some of the key constituencies and interesting contests between candidates in Rajasthan.
Sachin Pilot, Congress state president and one half of their chief ministerial face, is contesting his first Assembly elections this time from Tonk. The former MP has worked actively in Rajasthan for the past five years after BJP won a thumping majority in 2013 polls, winning 163 seats out of a total 200.
Standing against the incumbent BJP candidate Ajit Singh, Pilot's road to victory looked clear but then BJP switched their strategy following the announcement of his candidature and fielded Yunus Khan, withdrawing Singh's nomination.
Tonk has a majority Muslim population and Khan is the only Muslim BJP candidate in the state. Khan is an incumbent MLA from Deedwana and a cabinet minister for Public Works and Transport. His introduction shortens the gap between the two parties in Tonk.
Most Tonk residents say Pilot still has an edge, but Khan has been touring rural areas in the district and holding interactions with different communities in the city. The final result could be closer than expected.
Jhalrapatan seat in Jhalawar district is not a seat where a close contest could take place. It is, after all, the stronghold of Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje who has been elected MLA three times in a row from the constituency. Before Assembly wins, she had been a five-time MP from the Jhalawar Lok Sabha seat too.
But the introduction of Manvendra Singh, former BJP MLA from Sheo, Barmer, who recently defected to the Congress has made Raje fight for her seat. Singh, son of senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh, displeased with the treatment meted out to his father and banking on Rajput anger against the Raje government left BJP in September.
With eyes on Lok Sabha polls, Singh did not wish to contest state elections but Congress decided he was the best candidate to go up against Raje.
He is now hoping to capitalise on the anti-incumbency wave and absorb Rajput and minority votes in Jhalrapatan. The task, however, is easier said than done, and Raje is still considered as a clear favourite from the seat. But if Singh can even bring down the margin of defeat to a smaller number compared to Raje's usual thumping wins, it would be a clear indication of the changing political climate.
In Udaipur, the historical capital of Mewar, Congress and BJP have fielded veteran candidates in Girija Vyas and Gulab Chand Kataria. Vyas is a former MP and ex chief of the National Commission for Women, while Kataria is the serving Home Minister in Raje cabinet.
Both leaders are also on the upper end of the age spectrum; Vyas is 72 and Kataria is 74. Mewar is crucial region and consists of a total 28 seats. It is said that the party that wins Mewar, wins Rajasthan. Historically, the party that has swept Mewar has formed the government in the state. In 2013 elections, BJP had won 25 out of a possible 28 seats.
This time, however, just like the rest of Rajasthan, there is a Congress wave in Mewar, so Vyas has an edge. According to Narayan Bareth, former journalist and political analyst, the sizable Tribal population in Mewar is unhappy with the BJP as employment under NREGA scheme has suffered. Environment issues have also left them displeased. Additionally, the Rajputs in Mewar were left disgruntled following the Padmavat row.
Senior Congress leader CP Joshi and BJP's Mahesh Pratap Singh are contesting from Nathdwara constituency. A four time MLA from Nathdwara, former MP and union minister and Pradesh Congress Committee President, Joshi lost the Nathdwara seat in 2008 state election by a margin of one vote.
Up against him is Singh, who is head of the erstwhile royal family of Kotharia near Nathdwara in Rajsamand. Singh returned to BJP on October 30 after a gap of 11 years. Singh's uncle Shivdan Singh had been a two-time MLA and minister in the Bhairon Singh Shekhawat government.
Recently, Joshi was under fire for his caste-coloured comments during his campaign in Nathdwara. He had to apologise on Twitter and Congress president Rahul Gandhi, too, said his comments were not in line with party philosophy.
Joshi would be hoping this time the contest isn't as close as it was in 2008.
Senior Congress leader, two-time Chief Minister and the other half of Congress' Chief Ministerial face Ashok Gehlot is contesting from Saradarpura. BJP has failed to win this seat for two decades and has fielded Shambhu Singh Khatesar again, who had won in 1998. But Sardarpura is Gehlot's stronghold and he has been elected from the seat consecutively since 1998. He is expected to win convincingly this time too.
BJP had swept nine seats out of 10 in Jodhpur district in 2013, barring Sardarpura. Khatesar was up against Gehlot last time too and had lost by a margin of 18,478 votes. He would be hoping to close down that gap.
Ghanshyam Tiwari, the incumbent MLA from Sanganer, Jaipur district, resigned from BJP this year and floated his own Bharat Vahini Party. He is fighting from Sanganer again and is up against BJP's Ashok Lahoti and Congress's Pushpendra Bharadwaj.
Tiwari has served as minister in cabinets of Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and Raje and Lahoti is the mayor of Jaipur. The triangular nature of the contest makes the seat interesting.
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