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Lok Sabha elections 2019: PM Modi’s popularity, CM Ashok Gehlot’s sway the focus of Rajasthan battle

The Congress is hoping to do well in the remaining 12 Lok Sabha seats that will vote in the fifth phase of ongoing national polls on Monday if the 2018 Rajasthan assembly results are anything to go by.

lok sabha elections Updated: May 06, 2019 07:06 IST
Chetan Chauhan
Chetan Chauhan
Hindustan Times, Nagaur/Sikar/Churu/Jaipur
Lok Sabha elections 2019,India news,Rajasthan
Prime minister Narendra Modi addresses an election campaign for Lok Sabha polls, at Ramnagar in West Champaran, Saturday, May 4, 2019.(PTI file photo)

The Congress is hoping to do well in the remaining 12 Lok Sabha seats that will vote in the fifth phase of ongoing national polls on Monday if the 2018 Rajasthan assembly results are anything to go by.

It won 61 assembly segments under these Lok Sabha constituencies out of the 99 it got in the 200-member Rajasthan assembly.

The Congress won over half of the assembly segments in Nagaur, Sikar, Bharatpur, Alwar, Dausa, Dholpur and Churu, according to an analysis of the 2018 results.

Follow LIVE updates here.

The seven Lok Sabha are among those where the polling will be held on Monday.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s Sikar chief, Vishnu Chetania, underlined the 2019 elections are different from the assembly polls. He added the national polls are about re-electing Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Chetania said the negativity for the BJP is over with former chief minister Vasundhara Raje’s loss in 2018.

The focus on the ground has shifted from Raje to Modi and chief minister Ashok Gehlot. Congress chief Rahul Gandhi’s electoral pledge of ensuring an annual ₹72,000 income for the country’s 20% poorest families, too, appears to have gained some traction mostly in rural pockets. But scepticism remains over availability of funds to keep the promise. The BJP’s nationalism pitch in the aftermath of the February 14 car bomb attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama and the air strike on a terror camp in Pakistan in retaliation seems to be working in places like Nagaur, Jhunjhunu and Sikar, where a large number of soldiers are recruited from. The Congress is trying to hard-sell its loan waiver to 2.1 million farmers in the state even as the enthusiasm among voters for the national elections appear to be lesser in the absence of local issues.

Also Read | Fate of 51 seats across 7 states on line in fifth phase of Lok Sabha polls

POPULARITY TEST

The 2019 election is seen as a test of Modi and Gehlot’s popularity. Modi is the focal point of the BJP’s campaign while the Congress is banking on Gehlot’s performance. “Gehlot is a good man,” said Om Prakash Sharma, who owns an electrical appliances shop in Nagaur. “But this poll is for choosing a PM and I am with Modi. In 2018, I voted for Gehlot.”

A resident of Chamu in Sikar district, who did not wish to be named, said it was difficult to counter Modi’s popularity as people are not interested in listening about Rafale jets deal issue and the 2016 demonetisation. Niranjan Singh, a rickshaw driver, was curious to know whether he will get ₹72,000 per year. “I got farm loan waiver of ₹25,000 from Gehlot but people say there will be no money to give ₹72,000 and it is an election gimmick,” Singh.

Many felt seeking votes in the name of on nationalism and on religious lines was bad for the country. “I urge Modi and even Rahul Gandhi to not create a divide between communities. Religious hate is being spread through social media to garner votes,” said Ishkur Rehman, a fruit-seller in Nagaur.

JAT-RAJPUT LAND

The polling on Monday in mainly being held in Rajasthan’s Jat-Rajput farmer belt. Jats have traditionally been Congress voters but gravitated towards the BJP in 2014. Rajputs are considered as BJP supporters.

In Nagaur, BJP’s ally Hanuman Beniwal of the Rashtriya Jantantrik Party, is up against former Congress Parliament member, Jyoti Mirdha, whose grandfather, Nathu Ram Mirdha, was considered as one of Rajasthan’s tallest Jat leaders. Beniwal, a legislator from Khinsar, got about 15% votes in 2014 LS polls. He is banking on BJP supporters to defeat Jyoti Mirdha.

“She [Jyoti Mirdha] never visited us when she got elected in 2009 and not also after her loss in 2014. She came only before the elections. The older Jats will vote for Nathu Ram ji and not her. The younger ones will vote for Beniwal,” said Nagaur-resident, Bhagirath Bishnoi.

Nagaur is a Jat-dominated constituency. Muslims, Dalits and Rajputs could be deciding factor as Jat votes are likely to get divided between the two main candidates from the community.

There are an estimated 400,000 Jat votes out of the total 1.92 million voters in Nagaur. The remaining are Rajputs (about 250,000), Brahmins and Vaishyas (150,000), scheduled castes (about 350,000) and Muslims (about 250,000). In Bharatpur, the BJP has fielded two-time Parliament member Gangaram Kohli’s daughter-in-law, Ranjeeta Kohli, who is up against Congress’s Abhijit Kumar Jatav.

“[Abhijit] Kumar [Jatav] is my candidate. It is not he, but I am the candidate here,” said Vishwender Singh, a Rajasthan minister and a member of Bharatpur’s erstwhile royal family as he campaigned for Jatav . Ranjeeta Kohli said Singh’s campaign will have no impact as the people are voting for Modi and her father-in-law, who have done a lot of work in the constituency reserved for the scheduled castes. Residents say Singh holds sway in the region and the caste equation also favours the Congress as Jats, Dalits and Meo-Muslims dominate Bharatpur.

In Alwar, former union minister and Congress’s Bhanwar Jitendra Singh is contesting against BJP’s Mahant Balak Nath, who is from neighbouring Haryana. Bhanwar Jitendra Singh is a Rajput, while Nath a Yadav.

Shakir Ali, 27, a civil engineer from Alwar’s Guru Gothi village, said Bhanwar will win if the voting percentage in Meo-Muslim dominated villages is more than that of Yadav areas.

In neighbouring Dwarkapur village, Sajjan Singh said the BJP’s traditional Rajput votes will be divided as Bhanwar is a Rajput. About 17% of Alwar’s electors are Yadavs, followed by the scheduled castes and Muslims, both around 12%. Other communities account for under 7%. Swami Sumeedanand Saraswati, who is also from Haryana, is the BJP candidate from Sikar. He is up against Congress’s Subhash Meharia, who has been elected thrice to Lok Sabha as BJP candidate and was a Union minister in Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government (1998-2004).

A mining baron, Meharia got about 180,000 votes in 2014 Lok Sabha elections as an independent while Saraswati, the winner, got 454,000 votes. He joined the Congress about two years ago.

All India Kisan Sabha general secretary Amra Ram is again contesting on a Communist Party of India (Marxist) ticket. Nathu Ram, a Jat resident of Sikar, said he will vote for Meharia. Mahesh Beniwal, another resident, called himself a staunch Amra Ram supporter. Most were critical of Saraswati saying he never visited them and did not do much work. BJP’s Sikar president, Vishnu Chetani, admitted that Saraswati has not visited the constituency often and said the people are voting for Modi and not Saraswati.

POLITICAL VOICES

Union minister Gajendra Shekhawat said the BJP will sweep the polls in the 12 of Rajasthan’s 25 Lok Sabha seats. “I have visited every nook and corner of the region and I can sense there is a positive sentiment for Modi and people are unhappy with Gehlot, who has failed to deliver on farm loan waiver and unemployment allowance as promised before the 2018 assembly elections,” he said.

State minister Govind Singh Dotsara said the people know Gehlot has delivered on his farm loan promise as outstanding loans of two million families have been waived.

He admitted the BJP workers are more vocal than that of the Congress. Dotsara said the silent voters will deliver results for the Congress. “Modi is a factor, but a large number of people are critical of him. They will voice their opposition through votes.”

Political analyst Narayan Bareth said the region had been a Congress bastion, but the BJP has made inroads in the last two decades. ‘’This time contest is keen as voter is silent and wave in favour of PM Modi is not significant as it was in 2014. The Congress having a government in Rajasthan adds to its advantage,’’ he said.

(With inputs from Rakesh Goswami)

Untitled Document

ConstituencySitting MP
Bihar
SitamarhiRam Kumar Sharma, RLSP
MadhubaniChaudhary Hukumdev Narayan Yadav, BJP
MuzaffarpurAjay Nishad, BJP
SaranRajiv Pratap Rudy, BJP
HajipurRamvilas Paswan, LJP
Jammu and Kashmir
LadakhThupstan Chhewang, BJP
AnantnagSeat is vacant (PDP’s Mehbooba Mufti quit after becoming CM of the state)
Madhya Pradesh
TikamgarhVirendra Kumar Khatik, BJP
DamohPrahalad Singh Patel, BJP
KhajurahoNagendra Singh, BJP
SatnaGanesh Singh
RewaJanardan Mishra, BJP
HoshangabadUday Pratap Singh
BetulJyoti Dhurve, BJP
Rajasthan
GanganagarNihalchand Meghwal, BJP
BikanerArun Ram Meghwal, BJP
ChuruRahul Kaswan, BJP
JhunjhunuSantosh Ahlawat, BJP
SikarSumedhanand Saraswati, BJP
Jaipur RuralRajyavardhan Singh Rathore, BJP
JaipurRamcharan Bohara, BJP
AlwarChand Nath, BJP
BharatpurBahadur Singh, BJP
Karauli-DholpurManoj Rajoria, BJP
DausaHarish Chandra Meena, BJP
NagaurC R Choudhary, BJP
ConstituencySitting MP
Jharkhand
KodarmaRavindra Kumar Ray, BJP
RanchiRam Tahal Choudhary, BJP
KhuntiKariya Munda, BJP
HazaribaghJayant Sinha, BJP
Uttar Pradesh
DharuheraRekha Verma, BJP
SitapurRajesh Verma, BJP
MohanlalganjKaushal Kishore, BJP
LucknowRajnath Singh, BJP
Rae BareliSonia Gandhi, Congress
AmethiRahul Gandhi, Congress
BandaBhairon Prasad Mishra, BJP
FatehpurNiranjan Jyoti, BJP
KaushambiVinod Sonkar, BJP
BarabankiPriyanka Singh Rawat, BJP
FaizabadLallu Singh, BJP
BahraichSavitri Bai Phule, BJP
KaiserganjBrij Bhushan Sharan Singh, BJP
GondaKirti Vardhan Singh, BJP
West Bengal
BangaonMamata Thakur, Trinamool Congress
BarrackpurDinesh Trivedi, Trinamool Congress
HowrahPrasun Banerjee, Trinamool Congress
UluberiaSajda Ahmed, Trinamool Congress
SreerampurKalyan Banerjee, Trinamool Congress
HooghlyDr Ratna De, Trinamool Congress
ArambagAparupa Poddar, Trinamool Congress

First Published: May 06, 2019 07:05 IST

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