The fight for the Ajmer Lok Sabha seat has taken on an interesting prospect after the ruling BJP in Rajasthan decided to field a state minister and local Jat leader to challenge Union Minister and sitting MP, Congress's Sachin Pilot.
Pilot is counting on development work and projects started under his initiative over the last five years to see him through, but Rajasthan water resources minister Sanwarlal Jat is confident of success as all the eight Assembly segments in the Ajmer parliamentary constituency are now in BJP's kitty.
But Pilot is unfazed despite Congress's comprehensive defeat at the hands of BJP in the recent Assembly elections in the state.
"I am ready to take on and will defeat the BJP candidate this time also. In the last elections, I defeated sitting MP Kiran Maheshwari by a margin of 76,000 votes... This time, I am confident of a better performance," Pilot told PTI.
"The work I've done here and the connections I have with the locals will help me win the seat again.
"BJP delayed naming its candidate for the seat as it could not find a suitable leader. It later fielded the minister (Jat), but I am positive about the results," he said.
A Gujjar leader, Pilot was handed the reins of the party in the state by Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi after its unprecedented debacle in the 2013 Assembly polls.
And, in keeping with his new role, Pilot said he would not only focus on his constituency but also visit other seats during campaigning in the state.
"Being the PCC Chief, I have to look after all the seats. I am in constant touch with all candidates. I will be going to other constituencies during campaigning but this would not affect my own constituency," he averred.
He asserted that projects like Kishangarh airport, Central University, Ajmer-Pushkar rail connectivity and the linking of Ajmer with other destinations in the country were among some of the works which would pave the way for his return to Parliament.
The foundation stone for the Kishangarh airport was laid last year by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh while the Central University is already operational. Pilot claimed he has fully utilised the MP-LAD fund for the development of the constituency and said that the Union government had also also started some projects here.
The Congress leader may be confident about his chances in the upcoming polls, but BJP candidate Sanwarlal Jat believes the rival party will face another debacle in the Lok Sabha elections on the heels of its trouncing in the Assembly polls.
"There is a wave in favour of BJP and we people have a stronghold here. The party won the last Assembly elections and will win in the Lok Sabha elections too," Jat said.
Jat had lost the Assembly polls in 2008 from Nasirabad, but won in 2013 as the Vasundhara Raje-led BJP stormed to power in the state.
"The (Ajmer) constituency requires a lot of development and is still lacking in that. My agenda will be mainly development," he said.
Polling is scheduled to be held in Rajasthan on April 17.
The Ajmer parliamentary constituency covers eight Assembly segments Pushkar, Ajmer (north), Ajmer (south), Masuda, Nasirabad, Kekdi, Dudu and Kishangarh. BJP candidates swept all eight segments in 2013 by a cumulative margin of 1.19 lakh votes.
The constituency which covers two holy places Ajmer Dargah and Pushkar has a population of approximately 16 lakh dominated by Jat, Gujjar and the Rajput communities.