BJP faces litmus test in Ajmer, Alwar bypolls
The BJP is not taking the by-polls, scheduled in December, lightly. Chief minister Vasundhara Raje has taken the reins of the elections in her own hands.jaipur Updated: Oct 04, 2017 20:25 IST
The by-polls for the Ajmer, Alwar Lok Sabha and Mandalgarh assembly seats will be a referendum on the performance of ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) a year ahead of the state assembly elections.
The BJP is not taking the by-polls, scheduled in December, lightly. Chief minister Vasundhara Raje has taken the reins of the elections in her own hands.
The BJP has appointed one MLA and one party leader to oversee poll preparations for each assembly segment.
Coming in the backdrop of demonetisation and GST, the by-polls will be difficult for the party. While small traders are upset about demonetization and the GST, Rajputs are unhappy over the killing of gangster Anandpal and farmers angry that the government has not formally waived off loans after promising it to do so.
Raje launched the party’s election campaign on Wednesday with a three-day tour of the five assembly segments of the Ajmer parliamentary constituency.
On Tuesday, state Congress chief Sachin Pilot launched his party’s campaign with the four-day Kisan Nyay Yatra from Baran to Jhalawar—in Raje’s home turf.
Raje kicked off her tour from Ajmer, Pilot’s former Lok Sabha constituency that he lost to Sanwarlal Jat in the 2014 general elections. The seat fell vacant after to Jat’s demise.
Both parties are in a dilemma regarding candidates. The BJP might field Sanwarlal Jat’s wife, or son Ramswarup to win sympathy votes of Jats but neither has much connect with the community members and have remained aloof from the public. The Congress could go with Sachin Pilot.
The seat has more than three lakh scheduled castes voters, 2.5 lakh Jats and 2 lakh Muslims and Rajputs and Gurjars each besides more than 1.5 lakh Brahmins, Banias and Rawats and Malis voters.
If Pilots contests, he would be in a strong position as he will get not only traditional Congress votes but some of the BJP’s vote bank too.
But his predicament is that if he contests it could dash his hopes of being the chief ministerial candidate in the assembly elections next year.
Secondly if he loses, it would dent his image leading up to the polls.
In Alwar, the Congress has a strong candidate in Jitendra Singh, a former parliamentarian. While the party has not formally declare a candidate, Singh is already participating in chaupals and late night meetings.
The CPI and CPM also are also willing to support Singh to topple the BJP. The seat fell vacant after the demise of sitting BJP MP Mahant Chandnath.
The BJP is yet to declare its candidate but Jaswant Yadav’s name is doing the rounds. There are more than two lakh Yadav voters in the constituency with an equal number of Brahmins, Meos and scheduled castes (SCs). There are more than a lakh Meenas, 80,000 Malis and 50,000 Rajputs. Given that Meos, SCs and Meenas will go with the Congress, the BJP is hoping to garner Yadav and Brahmin votes by fielding a Yadav candidate.
Raje will be in Alwar on October 8-9 for the party’s working committee meeting and the candidate is likely to be declared after the meeting.
In the Mandalgarh assembly constituency, the BJP again faces a tough fight. The seat fell vacant after the demise of sitting legislator Kirti Kumari. Here the buzz is that the BJP might give the ticket to her sister-in-law, Harshita to garner sympathy votes.
Also in contention is Avijit Singh son of Punjab governor VP Singh. According to sources, VP Singh approached Union home minister Rajnath Singh to rally for his son. Other probables include zila pramukh Shakti Singh Hada and UIT chairman Gopal Sharma.
Local Congress leaders admit that the party’s chances are slim but the party has a chance of winning only if a leader of the stature of Dr CP Joshi, former MP and a Brahmin, contests.
The other probable names are local Congress leaders Vivek Dhakar and Satyanarayan Sharma.
The Dhakar community is in majority with more than 40,000 voters in the constituency besides there are more than 30,000, SC/STs voters and more than 25,000 Brahmins and 10, 000 Rajputs.