Lok Sabha Elections 2019: Will Rajasthan CM Gehlot’s magic work on home turf Jodhpur?
With the BJP regaining steam after the Balakot IAF air strike, Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot will hope to leverage advantage from Jodhpur division in Lok Sabha elections 2019. The Congress did well here in the 2018 assembly polls.Updated: Mar 12, 2019 16:44 IST
Jodhpur is the home turf of chief minister Ashok Gehlot who will hope to weave some magic for the Congress in the Lok Sabha polls.
Marwar is the state’s largest region comprising Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Barmer, Nagaur, Sirohi, Pali and Jalore districts. It has four parliamentary constituencies – Jodhpur, Barmer-Jaisalmer, Jalore and Pali. The Marwar region in western Rajasthan is characterised by a harsh physical landscape of the Thar desert.
Jodhpur division holds special significance for CM Gehlot in the general elections. In the 2013 assembly elections when Gehlot was the CM, the Congress was reduced to a tally of 21 of 200 seats in the assembly. The Congress also lost all 25 Lok Sabha seats in 2014.
With the Congress managing 100 seats in the 2018 assembly polls, Gehlot would be hoping for leading the party to a comfortable win at least in the Lok Sabha elections.
In the 2018 assembly elections, the Congress performed better in the Barmer, Jaisalmer and Jodhpur constituencies while the BJP put up a better show in Pali, Jalore and Sirohi.
Prof Sanjay Lodha said, “The BJP has traditionally been strong in Pali, Jalore and Sirohi belt as the influence of neighbouring Gujarat is strong there. The prosperous business community from these districts are settled in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka and have been traditionally aligned with the BJP.”
The issues of farm distress and the Barmer refinery will present challenges to the Congress and the BJP. Both the parties have doled out incentives to farmers to get their support while on the refinery, they have indulged in a blame game.
“The Jodhpur division has a sizeable number of Jat, scheduled caste and minority voters who are traditionally Congress voters and this should work in favour of the Congress,” said political analyst Narayan Bareth. Jats have in the past shifted loyalties from one party to the other, depending on the candidate.
The Rajputs too are in good number. “In the assembly election, the community, traditionally aligned with the BJP, ditched the party. If former BJP MLA and MP Manvendra Singh contests the Lok Sabha election, the BJP could find it difficult to capture the Rajput vote,” said Bareth.
He said the Balakot air strikes have given the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi an advantage. “The Modi factor still exists.”
Analyst Rajendra Bihad reinforced the point. “After the Pulwama terrorist attack and air strikes in Balakot, the current mood, especially in urban areas, is in favour of the BJP,” he said. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity has seen a rise and the Congress lacks a credible face.”
Jaisalmer and Barmer districts are along the international border with Pakistan and the issue of national security has resonance there, Bihad said. “On the other hand, Jalore and Sirohi districts share their border with Gujarat, so the Modi influence is strong there.”
However, Prof Lodha said the air strikes will not pay a political dividend to the BJP. “The strikes have been overdone by the BJP and there is a backlash among people over its politicisation,” he said.
First Published: Mar 12, 2019 15:38 IST