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BIKANER

Dharmendra's entry into politics and his choosing this seat means the spotlight will firmly be on this seat.
PTI | By HT Correspondent
UPDATED ON APR 03, 2004 01:44 PM IST

With 1,762,589 voters, Bikaner is the second-largest constituency in Rajasthan that spreads over four districts and borders Pakistan. It has a considerable number of Jats - the caste that the star belongs to.

This time Bollywood film star Dharmendra will be contesting from the Bikaner seat on the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) ticket. The decision to field Dharmendra in Bikaner would also help the BJP woo Jat voters in other constituencies.

Although Jats constitute only around 13 per cent of the state's electorate, political parties try to woo them for their practice of voting as a group.

About 60 of the 200 assembly constituencies in the state are dominated by the Jats.

Earlier, the community used to support the Congress. In 1999, the BJP turned them around by granting them Other Backward Caste (OBC) status, which guarantees them academic and job reservations. The move helped the BJP in the parliamentary elections in 1999 when it won 16 of the 25 parliamentary seats.

Rameshwar Dudi, also a Jat, will contest from Bikaner for the Congress. In 1999, he defeated BJP candidate Ram Pratap Kasania by over 94,000 votes.

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