Lok Sabha Elections 2019: Easy access, clean image gives BJP MP Subhash Baheria an edge in Bhilwara
Fielded for the third time in the Lok Sabha elections by the BJP, Subhash Chand Baheria is a low-profile leader with a clean image. Being associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Baheria has been one of the key organisation members in the BJP from the Bhilwara Lok Sabha constituency even before contesting elections.
Baheria is a chartered accountant and has a family business in the textile sector. Being involved in social work and having a simple lifestyle, he has been known for his easy access to the people of the area.
He was elected to the Lok Sabha for the first term in the 1996 defeating Congress candidate Mahendra Singh Mewar belonging to the royal family of Maharanas of Udaipur.
In his first term, Baheria was a member of the standing committee on commerce and consultative committee of finance ministry. He lost 1998 Lok Sabha polls contesting against Rampal Upadhyay of the Congress.
He was elected as a member of the Rajasthan legislative assembly for 2004-2008. In 2014, he was elected to the Lok Sabha from Bhilwara for a second term, riding on the Modi wave.
Baheria has 97% attendance in the Lok Sabha; he participated in 59 debates and asked 40 questions.
Even as Baheria claims to have raised important issues in parliament, including of farmers, local residents say not much has been done on ground and that his achievements of the fiveyear term are only a completion or an extension of the developments planned during the tenure of former Congress MP CP Joshi.
Baheria, however, says the completion of the Chambal drinking water project and electrification of railways have been his achievements. He claims the projects were planned by the Congress government but nothing much was done.
The Bhilwara seat, with a Brahmin majority, comprises seven assembly constituencies -Asind, Bhilwada, Mandalgarh, Shahpura, Jahajpur, Sahhda, and Budi. In 2018 assembly polls, the BJP won five seats -- Asind, Bhilwada, Mandalgarh, Shahpura, and Jahajpur – and the Congress the remaining three.
‘2014 promises yet to be fulfilled’
Baheria takes the most credit for two major developmental projects -- bringing water to the area and opening of the Bhilwara medical college. Local residents, however, said even as several projects initiated under the Congress government were completed by Baheria, the MP lagged behind in fulfilling promises made during the 2014 elections.
“Even as the MP has a clean image, lives like a common man and is available to people round the clock, he could not establish the image of a dynamic leader,” said Ashok Jain, a freelance journalist. “Chambal water pipeline and the Bhilwara medical college project were initiated under Joshi’s tenure. Yes, the credit for the completion of each of them goes to Baheria but there are deficiencies; though the Chambal pipeline is connected to Bhilwara, connectivity is lagging in many small villages where water crisis prevails,” Jain added. “Moreover, there are certain issues which are not touched by him; increasing accident rates was not addressed and no significant work was done for the textile industry which even he is connected to.”
Baheria also failed to establish a memu rail coach factory and two steel plants proposed under Joshi’s tenure. The projects were supposed to generate employments in the area.
Baheria said, “I realised that a memu rail coach factory was not needed for the area. It was proposed by the former MP to gain appreciation of the people. I have proposed different projects to generate employment in the area and the work still continues.”
Clean and low-profile image of a common man played a part in Baheria’s win 2014, apart from the Modi wave. Being associated with the RSS in a Brahmin-majority area played its part too, which would be a decisive factor in the present elections.
Out of 16 elections held in the Bhilwara constituency, eight elected MPS belonged to the Brahmin community. The Congress won the seat nine times, BJP 4 times, and Janata Dal and BLD once each.