BJP rebels Jaswant Singh and Subhash Maharia were busy campaigning on Saturday as the last day of withdrawal of candidature came and went.
BJP member Jaswant Singh speaks in the Lok Sabha in New Delhi. PTI/TV Grab
While Singh, 76, who is contesting as an independent from Barmer was campaigning in Jaisalmer, Maharia, a former Union minister and vice president of BJP Kisan Morcha, did the rounds in Sikar.
With the two rebels in the fray, the seats, which the BJP was confident of winning, could see a tough fight.
In Barmer, sitting MP Harish Choudhary is facing anti-incumbency and was not considered to be in a strong position to win, while in Sikar the Congress candidate PS Jat, a former managing director of the Ajmer discom, is a fresh face with little political clout, say political commentators.
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.
The party also reinducted Rajput leader Lokendra Singh Kalvi as an attempt to woo the Rajputs.
Singh, who is Darjeeling MP, 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.
So while BJP may garner Jat votes, it remains to be seen how the SC/ST and minority, traditional Congress supporters and Rajputs and OBC who have voted for the BJP will vote this time.
Singh has a hold on the Rajput and Muslim communities who are supporting him in Barmer.
There are about 3.5 lakh Jat voters, 2.75 lakhs Rajputs, 3 lakh Muslims and 3.5 lakhs SC/ST voters in the constituency.
Maharia, a three-time MP from Sikar, is locally powerful as his brother Nand Kishore is an independent MLA from Fatehpur.
The constituency is dominated by Jats who number about 7 lakh followed by SC at 1.5 lakh and an equal number of Rajputs and Muslims and how the four vote will prove decisive.