Congress fields Rita Choudhary, Harendra Mirdha for Rajasthan assembly bypolls
The Congress on Sunday announced candidates for by-elections to two assembly seats in Rajasthan, a day before the last date of filing nominations. The bypolls are slated to be held on October 21.
The party has fielded former MLA and 2018 assembly poll candidate Rita Choudhary, daughter of veteran leader Ram Narain Choudhary, from Mandawa seat in Jhunjhunu district. Five-time MLA and ex-minister Harendra Mirdha was picked for Khinwsar seat in Nagaur district, instead of Sawai Singh who was the candidate in last assembly election.
The two Jat-dominated assembly seats fell vacant after the MLAs, Narendra Khichad (Mandawa) and Hanuman Beniwal (Khinvsar), got elected to the Lok Sabha.
Though the Congress officially announced the candidates on Sunday, Choudhary and Mirdha had started their election campaign a week ago.
The BJP has fielded Susheela Sigra, a long-time Congress member and zila parishad pradhan, from Mandawa, and Narayan Beniwal, brother of Nagaur MP Hanuman Beniwal, from Khinwsar. The BJP and the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) of Hanuman Beniwal have entered into an alliance for the Khinwsar seat.
The candidates will file their nominations on Monday. According to sources in both the parties, the candidates will be joined by their senior leaders – chief minister Ashok Gehlot, state Congress president Sachin Pilot, AICC general secretary Avinash Pande and secretary Vivek Bansal; BJP state president Satish Poonia, leader of opposition Gulab Chand Kataria, deputy LoP Rajendra Rathore, union minister Arjun Meghwal and MP Hanuman Beniwal.
Rita Choudhary’s father Ram Narayan had been an MLA from Mandawa six times and she was elected from the seat in 2008; thereafter, Khichad won from there as an independent and then on a BJP ticket. Mandawa is traditionally a Congress seat.
RLP leader Hanuman Beniwal has been winning from the Khinvsar seat in the last three elections. He had defeated Congress’ Sawai Singh in 2018 with more than 17,000 votes. The seat has come into existence after delimitation in 2008 and since then the Congress has been losing there.
The by-election trend in Rajasthan shows that people vote for candidates fielded by the ruling party but in 2014, of the four seats where bypolls were held, the ruling BJP lost three despite getting a huge mandate in assembly and Lok Sabha elections.
Looking at bypolls held on 26 seats in the last two decades, it is observed that people had predominantly voted differently than they did in the assembly elections. Of the 26 seats which witnessed bypolls only 10 were won by the party that registered victory in the assembly polls.
Political analyst Narayan Bareth said both the parties have done their exercise and in the end used the old formula of dynasty politics and caste equations. “The benefits in these elections will go to the party that has a stronger organisation and can handle caste equations,” he said.
“The BJP in alliance is smarter than the Congress but in long run it comes as a loss to the alliance partner as it become dependent on the BJP. The election would not be easy for both the parties but generally the results of by-elections show anti-establishment trend.”