12 of the remaining state constituencies will go to polls on May 6, the fifth phase of Lok Sabha Elections. This time, BJP and Congress both are suffering from in-fighting among local leaders on various seats.
Jaipur: A voter turnout of 68.17 per cent was recorded in 13 Lok Sabha constituencies of Rajasthan that went to poll on April 29. As many as 2.57 lakh people exercised their franchise at 28,182 polling stations in the 13 constituencies, where 115 candidates were in the fray.
Now 12 of the remaining constituencies will go to polls on May 6, the fifth phase of Lok Sabha Elections.
The voters from Sriganganagar, Bikaner, Churu, Jhunjhuju, Sikar, Jaipur rural, Jaipur, Alwar, Bharatpur, Karauli-Dholpur, Dausa and Nagaur will choose their candidates this time.
In 2014 BJP had won all the 25 seats in the state and Congress was reduced to zero.
This time, BJP and Congress both are suffering from in-fighting among local leaders on various seats.
Key constituencies for May 6 polls
Nagaur is considered the power centre of Jat politics in Rajasthan. This is the lone seat where the BJP has not fielded its own candidate.
At 5.25 lakh, the Jats are the single largest vote bank in Nagaur. The Muslims and scheduled castes number over three lakh, Rajputs 1.5 lakh and the Brahmins 1.25 lakh. It also has 1.5-lakh first-time voters
The Congress’ Jyoti Mirdha, 46, and heir to the political legacy of her illustrious grandfather and six-time MP Nathuram Mirdha, faces Hanuman Beniwal, 47, the assertive Jat leader of the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party, who is popular among the youth for his aggressiveness.
“Beniwal’s party, which contested the 2018 elections alone, won three MLAs in the state. While Beniwal is reputed to be a radical Jat leader who is liked by the community’s youth, Mirdha’s liberal image is helping her get votes from other communities that are a bit sceptical of Beniwal’s ‘angry young Jat’ image. Some respondents also said that BJP leaders are actually not helping Beniwal since they want him to lose in order to eradicate a long-term threat. Whatever the case may be, the winner on this seat is likely to emerge as the leader of Jats in Rajasthan, which is why both Beniwal and Mirdha are leaving no stone unturned to register a win this time,” The Wire reported.
“In 16 general elections held from 1952, the Congress has held the seat 10 times. Of these, Ms Mirdha’s grandfather and Jat leader Nathuram Mirdha won the seat five times on a Congress ticket and in 1989 as a Janata Dal candidate. Mr. Mirdha’s popularity is evident in the fact that his was one of the only two seats that Congress won in 1977. The BJP has wrested this seat only thrice — in 1997, 2004 and in 2014,” The Hindu reported.
In 2014, Beniwal who fought as an independent won 1.6 lakh votes. Mirdha lost to the BJP’s Chaudhary by nearly 75,000 votes.
Shortage of water for irrigation, the slowdown in handicraft industry and declining figures in animal husbandry are some of the problems affecting the locals in Bikaner. But the voters have shown an inclination for BJP and issues of national importance time and again.
“The Bikaner seat has been a stronghold of the BJP since 2004 when film actor Dharmendra had won on the party’s ticket. It was reserved for Scheduled Castes in the 2009 delimitation exercise, after which the caste equations changed and Dalits and Other Backward Classes registered a shift towards Congress. Earlier, former Lok Sabha Speaker Balram Jakhar was elected on the Congress ticket from here in 1998,” The Hindu reported.
Two-time BJP MP from Bikaner Arjun Ram Meghwal is again contesting the general election from the Bikaner seat on a BJP ticket. Former IAS officer Arjun Ram won the 2014 Lok Sabha elections from Bikaner by more than three lakh votes, defeating Congress’s Shankar Pannu. This time the Congress has fielded Madangopal Meghwal, a retired IPS officer Arjun Ram’s cousin.
About 930,766 or 58% of people voted in Bikaner in 2014.
Balwan Poonia of Communist Party of India (Marxist), Rafique Mandelia of Indian National Congress, Rahul Kaswan of Bharatiya Janata Party and Hari Singh of Bahujan Samaj Party are a few prominent candidates contesting for general election 2019 from Churu Lok Sabha constituency of Rajasthan.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha election, Rahul Kaswan of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won by getting a huge margin of over 2.94 lakh votes. He had defeated Abhinesh Maharshi of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). Kaswan had secured 595756 votes while Maharshi got 301017 votes.
The Congress has maintained its track record of giving the ticket to at least one Muslim candidate in the Lok Sabha election in Rajasthan by fielding Rafique Mandelia from Churu.
Mr. Mandelia lost the 2009 Lok Sabha election and was defeated in the Churu Assembly constituency in the 2018 election by a narrow margin of 1,850 votes. His father, Maqbool Madelia, won the 2008 Assembly election, defeating Harlal Saharan of the BJP in Churu.
Local Congress MLAs and the lone Congress minister from the region are reportedly working against the party candidate.
Union minister Colonel Rajyavardhan Rathore of the Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress’s Krishna Poonia will face each other in the Jaipur Rural constituency. Both are former Olympians.
In 2014, Rathore won the seat against CP Joshi of the Congress. Last year, Poonia won the Sadulpur assembly seat defeating BJP stalwart Ram Singh Kaswan.
The Jaipur Rural seat has approximately 19,33,000 voters. Congress holds six of the eight assembly seats in the Jaipur Rural constituency. During the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP had 5 seats while the Congress had two assembly seats falling under the Jaipur Rural constituency.
“The 41-year-old Poonia, who represents Churu district's Sadulpur assembly seat, was named the Congress candidate from Jaipur Rural Lok Sabha seat on Monday and she will now start campaigning in the constituency. The constituency mostly spread in rural areas is already abuzz with the campaign by Rathore who made his electoral debut by winning the seat in 2014 with a margin of 3,32,896 votes,” the New Indian Express reported.
It is an important seat in Rajasthan as Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a rally here last Wednesday, while Congress president Rahul Gandhi campaigned on Monday.
The Jaipur Rural Lok Sabha seat has 19.33 lakh electorates of which 9.12 lakh are female. It is dominated by the Jat community, followed by Brahmin, Yadav and SC voters. It also has a sizeable Muslim population. Many families, with members in the armed forces, also reside here.
The caste equation is favourable for Poonia who belongs to the Jat community.
“In Jaipur urban, which is considered a Brahmin seat, Congress again fielded a Baniya candidate Jyoti Khandelwal against BJP’s sitting MP Bohra who comes from the Brahmin community. It is highly unlikely that Jhunjhunwala and Khandelwal will make a significant dent into the Baniya voters who are traditionally BJP supporters,” The Wire reported.
Alwar is one among the 25 Lok Sabha seats in Rajasthan. It is divided into eight Assembly segments with one seat reserved for ST category.
It is infamous for three alleged lynchings of dairy farmers over suspicions of cow smuggling but on the ground, one wonders if the lynchings will have any effect on the voter's priorities.
“With the exit of the Vasundhara Raje government, the absence of Gujjar leader Sachin Pilot in Chief Minister’s seat, and the Ashok Gehlot government failing to deliver on the promised farm loan waiver, voters may be moving away from the Congress just months after voting them in power during Assembly elections,” A Hindu report on Ajmer and Alwar constituency reported.
The erstwhile royal and former Union minister Bhawar Jitendra Singh is pitted against Mahant Balaknath of the Rohtak-based Asthal Bohar Math for this seat.
In February 2018, Congress candidate Karan Singh Yadav defeated BJP candidate Jaswant Singh Yadav. But this time, the Congress has fielded son of the soil and ex-royal, Bhawar Jitendra Singh.
BJP newcomer Balaknath is a disciple of Mahant Chandnath, who won from Alwar in 2014 on a BJP ticket defeating Jitendra Singh by a huge margin of over 2.83 lakh votes. He passed away a few years later. By-polls were held for the seat in 2018 after it fell vacant following the death of Chand Nath and the Congress was able to defeat the BJP on the seat.
Jitendra’s appeal among the Rajput, Dalit and Meo (Muslim) voters, who are the worst victims of cow lynching episodes is making the contest tough for the BJP.
The entry of the BSP candidate Imran Khan has made this a three-way contest.
In last December's Assembly polls, Congress swept three of eight seats in Alwar, BSP won two and BJP won one while Independents won two. In comparison, BJP had won seven out of eight seats in 2013 owing to Modi wave.
About 1,063,043 or 65% of people voted in Alwar in 2014.
Karauli-Dholpur constituency in Rajasthan will witness a direct contest between the BJP and Congress.
The last parliamentary elections held in 2014 witnessed a close fight between the BJP and the Congress in the Karauli-Dholpur seat. BJP’s Manoj Rajoria, an MD in homoeopathy, won, defeating Congress’s Lakkhi Ram Bairwa by more than 27,000 votes. In the first election in this seat after delimitation in 2009, Congress's Khiladi Lal Bairwa had defeated Rajoria.
This time, Rajoria is once again attempting to retain the seat against Congress candidate Sanjay Kumar Jatav.
Many people allege that Rajoria was not in touch with the area in the last five years and did not develop the constituency.
The Bairwas and Jatavs are the dominant communities in this reserved seat, followed by Gurjars and Meenas. Rajputs, Brahmins and Muslims also have significant numbers.
“Before delimitation, the Karauli-Dholpur Lok Sabha was under the Hindaun constituency. Former chief minister Tika Ram Paliwal won the first general election from Hindaun in 1952 as an independent. Former CM Jagannath Pahadia won in 1967, 1971 and 1980. From 1989 to 2004, the LS seat was with the BJP. After delimitation, Congress’s Khiladi Lal Bairwa won the seat in 2009,” Hindustan Times reported.
What’s in store
The Hindi belt of Rajasthan has historically voted for their caste in almost all elections. Rajasthan has approximately 4.89 crore voters and Both Congress and BJP have given a mix of candidates from all prominent castes in the state.
Rajasthan has mostly shown an inclination towards right-wing politics and BJP. The satta market in the state has prophesized that BJP will win 18-19 seats. It would still be a loss from 2014 and especially in 2019 when every seat counts in the event they are not able to compensate for it somewhere else.
In the fight between Congress and BJP for Rajasthan, caste will win