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Lok Sabha elections 2019: Congress, BJP in close contest on Kota seat

There are around 19 lakh voters in the Kota constituency. The voter turnout in the constituency in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls was around 65.96%.

lok sabha elections Updated: Apr 28, 2019 12:35 IST
Aabshar H Quazi
Aabshar H Quazi
Hindustan Times, KOTA
Kota,Congress,BJP
Senior journalist Sunil Mathur said caste equation favour the Congress candidate due to the presence of around 2.50 lakh Meena community voters, 1.75 lakh Muslim voters and 3.50 lakh.(HT Photo)

The Kota parliamentary constituency is headed for a neck and neck contest between the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Sitting BJP MP Om Birla and sitting Congress MLA from Pipalda (Kota) Ramnarayan Meena are pitted against each other in the parliamentary constituency, where polling will be held on April 29.

Though the Congress has won the seat only once in last two decades, but in the present elections, the party seems to be building momentum in its favour with the progress of the election campaign. Congress president Rahul Gandhi has organised two election meetings in the constituency in a month’s time, which speaks of the significance of the seat for the party. The caste and vote bank equations of the Congress candidate, along with the internal factors of Kota BJP, have put Meena in a close contest with Birla the present elections.

There are around 19 lakh voters in the Kota constituency. The voter turnout in the constituency in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls was around 65.96%.

Senior journalist Sunil Mathur said caste equation favour the Congress candidate due to the presence of around 2.50 lakh Meena community voters, 1.75 lakh Muslim voters and 3.50 lakh.

Dalit voters. Meena and Muslim voters are believed to the vote bank of Congress, Dalits too are known as traditional supporters of the party, he said.

Besides, there are about 1.25 lakh Gujjar voters, who can play crucial role in the Lok Sabha polls. Gujjar leader and former BJP MLA from Kota North, Prahlad Gunjal, is known for his hold on the Gujjar voters in the parliamentary constituency and he being the rival of Om Birla, can create flutter in the BJP, Mathur said. “Kota parliamentary constituency is a general category constituency, but Congress has played a gamble by fielding Ramnaryan Meena, who belongs to the Scheduled Tribe category,” he added.

Along with Gunjal, two other former BJP MLAS — Bhawani Singh Rajawat and Vidhyashankar Nandwana — are also silent in the BJP campaign. These three MLAS had reportedly complained to the state BJP leadership after the announcement of the party ticket to Birla.

Meanwhile, a social media campaign is being run against Om Birla raising fingers at his ‘character’, though without any strong proof. Birla has not come out in open to refute the social media charges.

Also, a bleak cumulative difference of about 15,000 votes between the Congress and the BJP in the eight assembly constituencies, falling under the Kota parliamentary constituency, in the 2018 assembly polls is a cause of concern for the BJP.

On the other hand, the Congress seems united in the Kota constituency. Farm distress and significant number of rural voters in the parliamentary constituency have also proved to be an Achilles heel for the BJP candidate, as farmer suicides have taken place for first time in the Hadoti region during the last five years. About the aspects favouring Birla, Mathur said that Modi factor, along with the BJP heartland of Kota parliamentary constituency and the work done by him in Kota, including the construction of cable-stayed bridge and opening of passport service centre, keep Birla in the fight.

Veteran journalist Madan Madir said, “All equations and arithmetic are in favour of the Congress candidate and Rahul Gandhi’s meeting has put him in contest against the BJP, but one should also not underrate Birla, who along with his personal image is riding high on Modi factor.”

Talking about his chances in the election, BJP candidate Om Birla said that surveys are pointing towards a tsunami of Modi and BJP in the 2019 polls, in which the party would win by a big margin in the parliamentary constituency.

Congress candidate Ramnarayan Meena said Modi government has done nothing for Kota and country, so Congress would not only win the seat but also form government at the centre.

After former Congress MP from Kota, Ijyaraj Singh joined the BJP before the 2018 assembly polls, the party was in the doldrums over selection of candidate, but Ramnarayan Meena’s candidature has put the party in a fight on the Kota parliamentary seat.

First Published: Apr 28, 2019 12:35 IST