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HindustanTimes Wed,17 Sep 2014

Jaswant won't withdraw, Barmer a fight for prestige

Hindustan Times  Barmer, March 29, 2014
First Published: 16:06 IST(29/3/2014) | Last Updated: 16:43 IST(29/3/2014)

BJP rebel leader Jaswant Singh was busy campaigning in Jasialmer as the last day of withdrawal of candidature came and went on Saturday.
 
With Singh in the fray, the Barmer seat which BJP was confident of winning, could turn into a battle with shifting of vote banks.
 
There was speculation that the senior leader may withdraw his candidature at the last moment. Reports said some BJP leaders had been in touch with Singh and his son Manvendra, who is an MLA, to try and persuade them.
 
However Singh, who is Darjeeling MP, had denied that any senior leader had been in touch with him. He filed his nomination as an independent after the BJP denied him a ticket from Barmer. Singh, 76, said this was his last election and he wanted to contest it from home turf.
 
However chief minister Vasundhara Raje wanted to field a Jat leader from the Barmer seat. The party finally settled on Jat leader Col Sonaram, a former Congress MLA.
 
For Raje, Barmer has become a fight for prestige and she is not taking any chances. She was in Barmer on Tuesday for filing of Sonaram Choudhary's candidature and again on Friday when and met local leaders as well as spiritual heads of all the communities.

On Tuesday, after addressing a large public meeting, Raje had told the media that she was not in Barmer to persuade anyone but to  press ahead with BJP's 'Mission 25' to win all 25 Lok Sabha seats in the state.
 
Traditionally, SC/ST, Jats and minority are seen as a Congress vote bank while Rajputs and OBC have voted for the BJP.

Singh has a hold on the Rajput and Muslim communities in Barmer and will cut into both the BJP and Congress vote base. The most prominent Rajput leader in Barmer Bhagwan Singh Rolsahabsar is also campaigning for Singh while Muslims leaders have expressed support for Singh.
 
Sonaram Choudhary's advantage for the BJP is his strong following among the Jats whom the BJP is banking on.
 
As per constituency statistics there are about 3.5 lakh Jat voters, 2.75 Lakhs Rajput, 3 Lakh minority and 3.5 lakhs SC/ST voters.


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