Will Manvendra Singh repeat his 2004 Barmer Lok Sabha victory for Congress in 2019?
This is the fourth time Manvendra Singh is contesting the Lok Sabha polls. Though he has been in the fray since 1999, he tasted victory only in 2004. He lost the polls in 1999 and 2009 and did not contest in 2014 when his father Jaswant Singh contested as an independent.Updated: Apr 19, 2019 15:34 IST
Will Manvendra Singh, the first Rajput to win the Bamer Lok Sabha constituency for the BJP in 2004, be able to repeat his magic with the Congress this time?
This is the fourth time Manvendra is contesting the Lok Sabha polls. Though he has been in the fray since 1999, he tasted victory only in 2004.In 1999 he lost the election to Congress’s Sonaram Choudhary and in 2009 lost to Congress’s Harish Choudhary.
In 2014, he vacated Barmer for his father Jaswant Singh, who wanted to contest from his home turf. Manvendra contested assembly elections from Sheo that time and won. Last year, in September, Manvendra left the BJP and joined the Congress.
He took on former chief minister and BJP leader Vasundhara Raje from her home turf Jhalrapatan in the recent assembly election, but was defeated. Now, he is back contesting the Lok Sabha seat from his home turf again.
This is also the first time in several decades that the Congress is turning to a Rajput leader to win the seat. The last time the party had banked on Rajput leadership was in 1962 (Onkar Singh) and 1977 (Khet Singh), though both the candidates were defeated.
Following this, the party changed its strategy and focused on an alliance of Jats-Muslims and Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes. The strategy worked with the party winning the seat in 1991, 1996, 1998 and 1999 .
Manvendra became the first Rajput leader to win the seat for the BJP in 2004. It proved to be an achievement because even heavyweight candidates like Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, who contested the seat in 1971 on a Bharatiya Jan Sangh ticket (previous avatar of the BJP), and later Lokendra Singh Kalvi in 1998 could not taste success. Manavendra was defeated by Harish Choudhary of the Congress in 2009.
It was the 2014 elections that resulted in a shift of traditional voter loyalties, according to analysts. Rajputs previously thought to be with the BJP voted against the party. Along with BJP’s Rajput vote bank, the Congress’ SC/ST and minority vote bank too shifted to former Union minister Jaswant Singh who contested the 2014 elections as an independent after the BJP refused him ticket.
In response, the BJP too for the first time fielded a Jat candidate, Col.sonaram Choudhary, ignoring its loyal Rajput community.
Prior to the 2014 elections, the BJP had never banked on a Jat candidate. The Congress on the other hand has banked on Jat candidates seven times, while fielding Rajput candidates only on two occasions. It has also banked on Jain candidates five times.
Even in 2018 assembly elections, the Congress gave only one seat to Rajput community while the BJP fielded three Rajput candidates out of total eight seats. The Congress fielded a Meghwal candidate from the Jaisalmer general seat which annoyed the Rajput community.
Political analyst Manoj Gujar said the impact of 2014 elections can be seen in 2019 with the Congress fielding a Rajput candidate after a gap of 42 years. “In 2014, the Rajput community voted for Jaswant Singh and not the Congress, so it will be interesting to see if Manvendra will be able to bring the Rajput votes for the Congress,” said Gujar.