Rajasthan has assembly elections due in November, along with Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje has been announcing a slew of poll sops, from low-cost housing plots for the urban poor to a five-day working week for government servants. But is it enough to satisfy voters?
"It is rise in prices of almost everything that will matter most in the election," says Godharam Jhakar of Deesa village on Jaipur's outskirts. Public finance specialist L. N. Nathuramka in the Pink city echoes his view. “Inflation has broken the back of the aam admi,” he says. As for the populist sops, “We know the chief minister's grandiose announcements do not have budgetary backing.”
Do the people understand or care about the nuclear deal? They do, but in their own way. “Yes, electricity is important, but it can come from gobar gas as well,” retorts Chhajuram Akurida of Chaksu village near Jaipur.
The lingering bitterness over the deaths during the Gujjar agitation - both in 2007 and 2008 - may also impact Raje's chances. Definitely, the Gujjar agitation will cost her dear, says Major Man Singh from Arjun Ka Nagla in Bayana, the nerve centre of Gujjar agitation in which 66 people were killed by police firing in June 2008.
"Several are still languishing in different jails as Raje went back on promise to withdraw cases and release them. Jobs promised to the kin of those killed in the agitation have also not materialised," he says.
Part II will be carried on Wednesday