With barely five weeks left for the Rajasthan Assembly elections, the Congress continues to plague by severe infighting and blowback from Manvendra’s entry into the party. Meanwhile, the BJP is already working towards the strategy to woo Rajput voters.
Rajputs constitute about 12 per cent population of the state and have significant influence in Rajasthan politics. According to perception created by media, Rajputs are angry with the BJP mainly because of the sealing of main entrance of Rajmahal Palace, Jaswant Singh’s ill-treatment, denying state chief post to Gajendra Shekhawat, encounter of gangster Anandpal and the Padmaavat movie row.
In order to woo Rajput voters of the state, the BJP is fielding union minister of state Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, state government cabinet ministers –– Rajendra Singh Rathore, Pushpendra Singh, Gajendra Singh Khimsar and MLA Babu Singh Rathore. Moreover, to counter the perception that Rajputs are miffed with the BJP, Vasundhara Raje has herself chosen to contest from her present seat– Jhalrapatan- which has a sizeable Rajput population. Vasundhara Raje also comes from Rajput community that constitutes 1/10th of the population in Jhalrapatan. With her decision to contest from her present seat, she has put an end to all the speculations about the incumbent CM contesting from two seats. It also confirms the BJP’s policy of not allowing sitting MLAs to change their seats. This would be her fourth consecutive electoral battle from Jhalrapatan seat in Jhalawar district. She contested for the first time from her present seat in the 2003 assembly polls.
On Sunday, while addressing booth-level party workers at Jhalrapatan, the incumbent CM Vashundhara Raje said, “My relationship with Jhalawar is 30 years old and will continue till my last breath.” She further said, “My relationship with my voters is that of a mother, a sister. Both Jhalawar and Baran have attained new heights in terms of development in the last three decades.” She also said, “My bond with Jhalawar-Baran region is unbreakable.”
With Ashok Gehlot- Sachin Pilot standoff and Manvendra’s blowback, the BJP seems to be secured when it comes to banking on Rajput voter base. The Congress has been an abject failure when it comes to pacify infighting within the party. The party is portraying a united force but everyone is aware of the fact that there are two CM aspirants in the state and they seem divided. Sachin Pilot and Ashok Gehlot are seen together only on the stage. Sachin Pilot is hardly allowed any space in the posters put up by supporters of former CM Ashok Gehlot. On the other hand, the posters put up by Sachin Pilot’s supporters carries Pilot as the CM aspirant. Most of the time, supporters of Pilot and Gehlot engage in verbal brawls with each other sloganeering: “Pradesh ka CM kaisa ho Sachin Pilot Jaisa Ho” and “Rajasthan ki yehi pukar, Ashok Gehlot Phir Ek Baar.”
The Economic Times quotes BJP minister in charge of Rajasthan Prakash Javedkar saying, “Gandhi wants to project Pilot as the CM face. But Gehlot is not letting this to happen. There is a big tussle going on in Congress over leadership.”