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Rajasthan election 2018: Pitted against CM Raje, Manvendra Singh asks voters to ‘end rule of injustice’

Rajasthan assembly election 2018: Manvendra Singh, a former BJP leader, is pitted against Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje in her home constituency, Jhalrapatan in the December 7 assembly election. Singh had quit the BJP in September and joined the Congress in October.

rajasthan elections Updated: Nov 28, 2018 14:51 IST
Urvashi Dev Rawal
Urvashi Dev Rawal
Hindustan Times, Manda (Jhalawar)
Rajasthan Election 2018,Rajasthan Election 2018 News,Rajasthan Constituency
Congress candidate from Jhalawar, Manvendra Singh campaigns in a village, in Jhalawar, on Sunday, 25 November 2018.(Himanshu Vyas / HT Photo )

Dressed in his trademark white dhoti, kurta and colourful bandhej (traditional Rajasthani) safa, Congress candidate Manvendra Singh addressed a small gathering in Manda village of Jhalawar district. “If this was Barmer, villagers would not have let me enter had there been no development. You all are very simple that you have been voting for the same people over and over.”

His attack is clear and direct. “People are saying there is dictatorship here. We have to end this rule of injustice,” he says as Congress workers shout slogans in his support.

Singh, a former BJP leader, is pitted against chief minister Vasundhara Raje in her home constituency, Jhalrapatan. The tension between the two leaders is well known. Singh quit the BJP in September and joined the Congress in October after being sidelined within the ruling party because of Raje’s old feud with his father Jaswant Singh, former external affairs minister and BJP patriarch.

The Congress decided to field Singh against Raje who has reigned supreme here for the past three decades. “I think the Congress is keen on taking this seat with sincerity,” says Singh.

So he has shifted base 700 km from his native Barmer in arid western Rajasthan to lush Jhalrapatan on the eastern border of the state.

Singh accepts that the challenge is tough as area is not familiar to him politically. He is campaigning 10-12 hours a day, trying to reach out to the maximum number of people through nukkad sabhas, where he appeals to voters to overthrow the “dictatorial government.”

Manda village, about 15 km from Jhalawar, the district headquarters, has no paved road. While there is electricity, villagers say there is drinking water scarcity. There are no sewer lines and dirty water lies stagnant at various places.

So what does he think are the issues here?

“Look at the land here and the water. This is a three-crop area, a high-rainfall area and yet you have water shortage and drinking water problems,” he says.

“There have been two farmer suicides here which is shocking. In a high drought area like ours they still survive, here for a farmer to commit suicide is a tragedy without words.”

Asked about the Congress not giving an increased representation to Rajputs despite them being angry with the BJP, he says, “It’s not so mechanical that you expect an instant result. I think a certain entry has been made and it will become more apparent after the counting is done. I expect in the long term there will be a fair representation to all communities.”

Singh contesting from Jhalrapatan takes the feud with Raje to 2014 when she allegedly denied his father Jaswant Singh a ticket in the Lok Sabha polls.

But the battle is far from over. Asked if his supporters were disappointed that he was contesting from Jhalrapatan, he says, “They take it as a continuation of 2014 or as a reply to 2014. So they were very happy that way.”

Click here for complete coverage of Rajasthan Assembly Election 2018

First Published: Nov 28, 2018 14:28 IST