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It will be one-sided victory for Cong: Gehlot

Urvashi Rawal and agencies, Hindustan Times  Jaipur, December 01, 2013
First Published: 01:30 IST(1/12/2013) | Last Updated: 17:26 IST(10/12/2013)

Chief minister Ashok Gehlot today said that it would be a one-sided victory for the Congress in Rajasthan Assembly polls as the party government had carried out development work on a large scale in the last five years. Gehlot cast his vote in Mahamandir area of Jodhpur, said the claims of BJP leaders would be proved hollow when results will be announced on December 8.

On the question of competition with BJP, he told reporters in Jaipur that there was no "Modi or Raje" (Narendra Modi and Vasundhara Raje) factor in the state.

While the big two - Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party - aim at forming the new government in India’s largest state, voting started today to decide the fate of rebels and 758 independent candidates.

While the big two aim at forming the new government in India’s largest state — which houses 40,829,330 voters — rebels and 758 independent candidates are ready to spoil the party and emerge as kingmaker.

Sunday’s voting will take place to seal the fate of 199 — out of 200 — assembly seats. Churu, where election was countermanded following the death of the BSP candidate, will go to polls on December 13. 

No government in the state has had the privilege of being elected for two consecutive terms in office since 1998. But this time, in the absence of a strong anti-incumbency wave, it’s a tough call.

Kirori Lal Meena, the National People’s Party (NPP) leader and Dausa MP, has queered the pitch. He looks set to play an important role in case of a hung verdict.

In the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the Rajasthan mandate is a litmus test for BJP state president and former chief minister Vasundhara Raje and incumbent Congress’ Ashok Gehlot. Fighting dissidence, both are faced with questions about their leadership.

“We are confident of returning to power. During the last five years, we have introduced several social security schemes for the welfare of the people,” Gehlot has said at a campaign rally.

Raje, taking a dig at the Congress-led government, has said, “It suddenly woke up six months back and announced freebies to lure voters.”

While the Congress has stressed its welfare schemes and freebies announced ahead of the polls, the BJP is banking on its PM candidate Narendra Modi’s campaigns to sweep the elections.

Modi has addressed 20 rallies in Rajasthan, with special focus lavished on the Mewar region, which has 28 assembly seats. In the 2008 edition, the Congress had won 23 seats in Mewar, while the BJP had bagged four.

Trying to reap the benefits of Modi’s anti-Muslim image, the Congress has termed the BJP a communal party. Muslims hold 10% of the vote share and are upset after the Gopalgarh incident, in which 10 Meos were killed in police firing near a mosque in September 2011.

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Intense verbal battles have been a key aspect of the campaign season in Rajasthan. While Raje termed free medicines distributed by the state government as poison, Congress president Sonia Gandhi hit back, saying the BJP is full of poisonous people. The duel continued as Modi accused the Congress of thriving on the poison of power.

Both the Congress and the BJP have tried to get their candidates and caste equations right during ticket distributions.

The Congress is hoping to retain its hold among Muslim, SC, ST and a chunk of OBC voters, while the BJP is looking forward to the Brahmins, Rajputs, Vaishyas and a section of OBC and Muslim votes.

With Jats, who have 14% of the vote share, seemingly unhappy with the Congress for targeting jailed former minister Mahipal Maderna accused in the Bhanwari Devi murder case, the party has fielded 37 candidates from the community — including Maderna’s wife, Leela.

Influential Gurjar leader Kirori Singh Bainlsa’s late decision to back the Congress has led to a division among the community.

READ: Winning Rajasthan critical to BJP’s 2014 Lok Sabha polls strategy

(With inputs from PTI)

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