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Congress pits Manvendra Singh against Vasundhara Raje

The Congress on Saturday released its second list of 32 candidates, pitting former external affairs minister Jaswant Singh’s son and former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator Manvendra Singh against chief minister Vasundhara Raje from Jhalrapatan assembly constituency and reviving the old rivalry between the two families.

india Updated: Nov 17, 2018 23:53 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
manvendra singh Vasundhara raje
The Congress on Saturday released its second list of 32 candidates, pitting former external affairs minister Jaswant Singh’s son and former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator Manvendra Singh against chief minister Vasundhara Raje from Jhalrapatan assembly constituency and reviving the old rivalry between the two families(HT Photo)

The Congress on Saturday released its second list of 32 candidates, pitting former external affairs minister Jaswant Singh’s son and former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator Manvendra Singh against chief minister Vasundhara Raje from Jhalrapatan assembly constituency and reviving the old rivalry between the two families.

Manvendra quit the BJP on September 22 stating ‘kamal ka phool, hamari bhool,’ and joined the Congress. His father, who was minister in the previous National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, contested as an independent from Barmer in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections after the BJP denied him a ticket apparently at Raje’s behest. He lost.

Raje, a legislator from Jhalrapatan since 2003, responded to Manvendra’s candidature by saying that the Congress did not have courage to field its own worker and had therefore chosen a BJP turncoat. “The Congress fielded a candidate (Manvendra Singh) against me whom they were not willing to give ticket from his own seat,” she said, after filing nomination for her fourth straight contest from Jhalrapatan. She defeated Rama Pilot (mother of Sachin Pilot) in 2003. Before becoming MLA, Raje was MP for five terms from Jhalawar.

Manvendra accepted that contesting from Jhalrapatan would be a “big challenge” as he was shifting base from eastern Rajasthan to west. “I will abide by the party decision,” he said. However, Jhalrapatan district Congress president Kailash Meena said a local candidate would have been “welcome” and claimed the party had always “experimented” with tickets from the seat.

In the list of 32, the Congress has repeated eight candidates who contested in 2013 and given tickets to 24 new faces, including six women and five from the minority community. The kin of seven leaders were given tickets while five bigwigs -- including a minister in the Ashok Gehlot government, Babulal Nagar -- were dropped.

So far, the party has released the names of 184 candidates, of whom 81 have been repeated and 103 are new faces. As many as 25 women and 14 from the minority community have been fielded. The party has tried to strike a caste balance with Jats getting 29 tickets, Rajputs 16, Brahmins 18, Vaishyas 11, Gujjars 11 and SC/STs 63.

Political analyst Narayan Bareth said the list looked promising as it was a blend of old and new, which would help in building leadership for the future. Manvendra’s candidature would also send a message to the Rajput community.

Congress spokesperson Satyendra Singh Raghav said giving a chance to the youth and to new faces was a welcome move. Pitting Manvendra Singh against CM Vasundhara Raje was a good decision, as he was a tall leader.

Commenting on the list, BJP spokesperson Mukesh Pareek said, “The Congress has made Manvendra Singh a scapegoat as they had no other candidate ready to contest from Jhalrapatan. Looking at the Congress list, it seems that the brainstorming they did has gone waste as old candidates have been repeated. The BJP’s victory is certain in Rajasthan.”

BJP third list

The BJP on Saturday released its third list of eight candidates, dropping Jaipur ex-royal Diya Kumari and minister Hem Singh Bhadana. While the list has six new faces, mines minister Surendrapal Singh TT has been repeated from Karanpur seat. The BJP has so far announced 170 of 200 candidates.

However, the party is grappling with the names of PWD minister Yunus Khan and parliamentary secretary Om Prakash Hudla. Khan and Hudla have the backing of chief minister Raje but party leaders familiar with the matter said their candidature was being opposed by the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS). On Saturday, former BJP MLA Radheyshyam filed nomination as an independent.

Diya Kumari, legislator from Sawai Madhopur, is said to have been dropped after opposition from MP Kirori Meena, who got a person of his choice, Asha Meena, nominated.

Rebellion

Both the Congress and the BJP saw protests against candidate selection at party offices in several districts. In Kota and Ajmer, Congress offices were ransacked. An aspiring candidate tried to commit suicide at the BJP headquarters in Jaipur. Workers of both BJP and Congress, including some councillors and office-bearers, resigned from party posts to voice protes

First Published: Nov 17, 2018 23:48 IST