The lesser players capable of damaging the prospects of the two main rivals include the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party of Jat leader Hanuman Beniwal and the Bharat Vahini .(HT File Photo)
The lesser players capable of damaging the prospects of the two main rivals include the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party of Jat leader Hanuman Beniwal and the Bharat Vahini .(HT File Photo)

Rajasthan assembly elections 2018: Will flawed picks upset Congress’ plan in Marwar?

Rajasthan assembly elections 2018: Having been patronised by the palace in the early years of his political career, Gehlot has sought to partake of the Rathore legacy in the upcoming elections.
By Vinod Sharma | New Delhi
UPDATED ON DEC 01, 2018 09:28 AM IST

Here’s some real-time information. In the not-too-distant past, Rajasthan was for the Congress a low-hanging fruit. It seems now a coconut up in the sky, like a pie. That’s no poetic alliteration. It’s hard politics where love vanishes and returns faster than in real life.

The story specifically is of Marwar, which betroths 33 suitors to the 200-strong state assembly. The region has flirted with the Congress in the past. But it wasn’t ever the way it embraced the BJP in 2013. During the Narendra Modi wave, the saffron party won the hearts of the electorate in 30 constituencies. The Congress was left with just three, including Ashok Gehlot’s Sardarpura, which he’s re-contesting in Jodhpur.

There’s a lot of history to the two-time Congress CM’s association with the city that’s the seat of the erstwhile Marwar royalty. The 1952 polls in the region were swept by the Ram Rajya Parishad of the former king, Hanwant Singh Rathore, who did not live to see the Congress’s rout and the massive democratic endorsement of his popularity in free India’s first elections.

He and his third wife, Zubeida, a Muslim actress, were killed in a tragic plane crash on January 26 that year. Shyam Benegal’s 2001 celluloid version of Zubeida’s romance with the charismatic royal was scripted by film critic Khalid Mohammad, her son from her first marriage.

Having been patronised by the palace in the early years of his political career, Gehlot has sought to partake of the Rathore legacy in the upcoming elections. His catch phrase in the region this time is a replication of Hanwant’s 1952 promise to the people: mein thansu dour nahi (I’m not away from you) ....

But flawed candidatures have somewhat queered the pitch for the Congress and Gehlot, who undoubtedly is a popular face in Marwar and Rajasthan’s other regions, where scions of former royalties and principalities retain traction in their lost fiefdoms.

The BJP’s Vasundhara Raje has the Gwalior lineage by birth and through her marriage into the state’s Dholpur royalty. Others adorning princely badges in democratic contests are from the Bikaner, Kota and Alwar families. The first two are aligned with the BJP; the third with the Congress.

For instance, Gajendra Singh of Nagaur’s Khemsar principality is the BJP candidate in Lohawat. Punters in the adjoining satta hub at Phalodi, some 140 km off Jodhpur, see him as the eventual winner. In Phalodi itself, Congress nominee Mahesh Vyas has none betting on his win.

Betting has stopped since in Phalodi. Dhanji , a local punter, says he individually collates information from satta centres in Mumbai, Shekhawati, Jhunjhunu and Bikaner, where a tough cop has made punters scoot to operate from other abodes.

If punters including Dhanji are to be trusted, the 60-odd Congress rebellions could help the BJP to bounce back in the game or improve its tally. That’s because renegades in the saffron camp are relatively fewer.

“The Congress was a clear winner before candidatures. The field now is open and could throw up tantalising results,” said Dhanji, who is candid about his BJP. His prognosis matched the voices this writer heard on the ground —as also the assessment of Yogesh Sharma of the Jodhpur-based newspaper, Jalte Deep.

On the road from Jodhpur to Phalodi, the only seat where the Congress seems to have an edge is contested by Divya Maderna, daughter of Mahipal Maderna, a heavyweight Jat leader jailed in the Bhanwari Devi murder case. The Congress candidature from Osian has always been from her family, starting with her grandfather and the legendary Jat chieftain, Paras Ram Maderna. He contested and lost the 1952 polls driven by Hanwant’s royal appeal.

“I and my family have grassroots connect,” insisted Divya Maderna. Ironically, her fight in Osian is with Mahendra Singh Bhati, a Congress rebel considered close to Gehlot, whose campaign centres around the JatRajput rivalry that’s rampant not just in Marwar but across the state.

At Bhati’s camp office in Osian, his supporters openly said he’d return to the Congress if he wins. That might also be true of other rebels. But there’s no guarantee against the BJP wresting seats in fights made triangular by independent candidates and smaller parties.

The lesser players capable of damaging the prospects of the two main rivals include the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party of Jat leader Hanuman Beniwal and the Bharat Vahini of former BJP minister Ghanshyam Tiwari. Many disaffected Congress and BJP ticket-seekers have been fielded by these fringe parties.

Political grapevine is abuzz, in fact, in Marwar about the logistics assembled by Beniwal, who chopper-hops constituencies with a Jat population.

Senior Congress leaders recognise the possibility of damage by rebels in 25-30 seats. For Jodhpur’s reserved Bilara seat, Congress nominee Hiralal Meghwal is from the Gahlot faction. He’s in a spot as Vijender Jhala, a Sachin Pilot man, is in the fray on Beniwal’s ticket. He may not win but can take a sizeable number of Jat votes to make the BJP win.

The way the dice are now loaded should make Gehlot ponder whether the voters will be with his party—in spite of his promise to be with them.

Click here for complete coverage of Rajasthan Assembly Election 2018.

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Voters at a polling booth in Sahdoli for Ramgarhassembly constituency, Rajasthan, on Monday, January 28, 2019.(HT Photo)
Voters at a polling booth in Sahdoli for Ramgarhassembly constituency, Rajasthan, on Monday, January 28, 2019.(HT Photo)

79.14% polling recorded in Rajasthan’s Ramgarh assembly constituency

By HT Correspondent | Hindustan Times, Jaipur, Alwar
UPDATED ON JAN 29, 2019 01:58 PM IST
The highest polling percentage was recorded at booth number 1 in Bujaka village where 98.31% turnout was reported. The lowest turnout was at booth number 18 of Mubarikpur (51.98%).
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A polling partywith EVMs for Ramgarh assembly constituency. Voting is being held there on January 28, 2019.(HT Photo)
A polling partywith EVMs for Ramgarh assembly constituency. Voting is being held there on January 28, 2019.(HT Photo)

Voting in Rajasthan’s Ramgarh assembly constituency on Monday

By Devendra Bhardwaj | Hindustan Times, Alwar, Alwar
PUBLISHED ON JAN 28, 2019 08:32 AM IST
Election for the Rajasthan’s Ramgarh seat, scheduled on December 7, 2018, was postponed due to the death of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidate.
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The move came after CM Ashok Gehlot and Deputy CM Sachin Pilot held meetings with Congress president Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi on Wednesday.(AP)
The move came after CM Ashok Gehlot and Deputy CM Sachin Pilot held meetings with Congress president Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi on Wednesday.(AP)

Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot keeps key ministries in portfolios announced after meet with Rahul Gandhi

By Rakesh Goswami | Hindustan Times, Jaipur
UPDATED ON DEC 27, 2018 11:17 AM IST
Apart from the chief minister and deputy chief minister, 13 cabinet and 10 ministers of state were allocated portfolios.
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Rajasthan governor Kalyan Singh, chief minister Ashok Gehlot, deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot pose for a photograph with the newly sworn-in cabinet ministers during a ceremony at Raj Bhawan, in Jaipur, Monday, Dec. 24, 2018.(PTI)
Rajasthan governor Kalyan Singh, chief minister Ashok Gehlot, deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot pose for a photograph with the newly sworn-in cabinet ministers during a ceremony at Raj Bhawan, in Jaipur, Monday, Dec. 24, 2018.(PTI)

In Congress veteran Ashok Gehlot’s team in Rajasthan, 18 first-time ministers

By HT Correspondent | Hindustan Times, Jaipur
UPDATED ON DEC 24, 2018 09:49 PM IST
Pilot said the formation of the cabinet reflects a balance between age and experience, caste and different geographical regions
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BJP office in Jaipur. The party lost the recently held assembly election in Rajasthan.(HT Photo)
BJP office in Jaipur. The party lost the recently held assembly election in Rajasthan.(HT Photo)

Rajasthan assembly election results a reason to worry for BJP

By HT Correspondent | Hindustan Times, Jaipur, Jaipur
PUBLISHED ON DEC 20, 2018 11:17 AM IST
Rajasthan assembly election results: The BJP’s performance has declined almost on all seats as against the 2013 elections, it has been particularly poor on 14 seats losing five or more seats.
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Bharat Vahini party candidate from Sanganer Ghanshyam Tiwari , the BJP rebel who contested from Sanganer in the recently-concluded Rajasthan assembly polls, lost his deposit.(HT File)
Bharat Vahini party candidate from Sanganer Ghanshyam Tiwari , the BJP rebel who contested from Sanganer in the recently-concluded Rajasthan assembly polls, lost his deposit.(HT File)

Rajasthan Assembly Election Results 2018: 12 Congress, 3 BJP candidates lost security deposits

By Jaykishan Sharma | Hindustan Times, Jaipur, Jaipur
PUBLISHED ON DEC 17, 2018 02:25 PM IST
Rajasthan assembly election results: Of the 15 candidates of Rajasthan assembly election who lost their deposits, three belonged to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) whereas 12 belonged to the Congress.
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Deputy chief minister-designate Sachin Pilot and AICC general secretary Avinash Pande(PTI)
Deputy chief minister-designate Sachin Pilot and AICC general secretary Avinash Pande(PTI)

Jaipur’s Albert Hall decked up for the swearing-in of Gehlot

By Press Trust of India | Jaipur
UPDATED ON DEC 17, 2018 08:28 AM IST
A fine example of Indo-saracenic, a revival architectural style mostly used by the British in the later 19th century, the foundation of the iconic structure was laid in 1876 during the visit the Prince of Wales, Albert Edward, to Jaipur.
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CM Ashok Gehlot during an interview with Hindustan Times, in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India, 16 December 2018.(Himanshu Vyas/ HT Photo)
CM Ashok Gehlot during an interview with Hindustan Times, in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India, 16 December 2018.(Himanshu Vyas/ HT Photo)

‘Our govt will waive off farm loans within 10 days,’ says Rajasthan’s CM-designate Ashok Gehlot

By Rakesh Goswami | Hindustan Times, Jaipur
UPDATED ON DEC 17, 2018 10:29 AM IST
In his first interview ahead of the being sworn in as Rajasthan CM, Gehlot spoke to Hindustan Times about his government’s priorities and other issues.
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Among the richest MLAs who have declared their total assets in I-T returns are Congress leaders Parasram Mordia (Rs 172 crore) and Udai Lal Anjana (Rs 107 crore), and Ramkesh Meena (Rs 39 crore), an Independent.(PTI/File Photo)
Among the richest MLAs who have declared their total assets in I-T returns are Congress leaders Parasram Mordia (Rs 172 crore) and Udai Lal Anjana (Rs 107 crore), and Ramkesh Meena (Rs 39 crore), an Independent.(PTI/File Photo)

158 out of 199 newly elected MLAs in Rajasthan are crorepatis: ADR report

By Press Trust of India | Jaipur
UPDATED ON DEC 15, 2018 06:47 PM IST
A total of 82 out of 99 MLAs from the Congress, 58 of 73 MLAs from the BJP, 11 of 13 Independent MLAs and five of six BSP MLAs have declared their assets worth over Rs 1 crore, as per the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) report.
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Sachin Pilot will be the first leader to take oath as deputy CM will take oath along with the CM.(Burhaan Kinu/HT File Photo)
Sachin Pilot will be the first leader to take oath as deputy CM will take oath along with the CM.(Burhaan Kinu/HT File Photo)

Rajasthan assembly election results 2018: Once the youngest MP, Sachin Pilot to be state’s youngest deputy CM

By HT Correspondent | Hindustan Times, Jaipur
UPDATED ON DEC 14, 2018 09:19 PM IST
Rajasthan assembly results 2018: In 2004, Sachin Pilot was elected MP from Dausa, represented by his father Rajesh Pilot. After Rajesh Pilot’s death in 2000, his wife Rama Pilot won from Dausa in the by-election. In 2004, Sachin Pilot was nominated to contest from Dausa.
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Political observers have blamed the BJP’s loss on the SC/ST seats on the ‘Bharat Bandh’ and the anti-incumbency factor against the party.(Himanshu Vyas/HT Photo)
Political observers have blamed the BJP’s loss on the SC/ST seats on the ‘Bharat Bandh’ and the anti-incumbency factor against the party.(Himanshu Vyas/HT Photo)

Rajasthan assembly elections 2018: BJP wins only 21 of 59 SC/ST seats against 50 in 2013

By Press Trust of India | Jaipur
UPDATED ON DEC 14, 2018 07:00 PM IST
Rajasthan assembly polls 2018: The BJP failed to win a single SC/ST seat in Alwar, Bharatpur, Dausa, Dholpur, Karauli, Swai Madhopur and Tonk. These districts saw violent protests during the April 2 Bharat Bandh against the Supreme Court order on SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
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Rajasthan state Congress chief Sachin Pilot and former chief minister Ashok Gehlot in conversation during the Congress legislature meeting, at party office, in Jaipur, Rajasthan, Wednesday, December 12, 2018.(Himanshu Yvas / HT Photo)
Rajasthan state Congress chief Sachin Pilot and former chief minister Ashok Gehlot in conversation during the Congress legislature meeting, at party office, in Jaipur, Rajasthan, Wednesday, December 12, 2018.(Himanshu Yvas / HT Photo)

Infighting, faulty ticket distribution cost Congress in Rajasthan election, say experts

By HT Correspondent | Hindustan Times, Jaipur, Jaipur
UPDATED ON DEC 14, 2018 02:19 PM IST
Experts believe the Congress paid a heavy price in Rajasthan assembly election for the infighting between its two camps, led by party general secretary Ashok Gehlot and its state president Sachin Pilot , both of whom were contenders for the chief minister’s post.
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Senior Congress leader Ashok Gehlot(Vipin Kumar/HT PHOTO)
Senior Congress leader Ashok Gehlot(Vipin Kumar/HT PHOTO)

Rajasthan assembly election: Sea of supporters to welcome Gehlot as speculations Chief Minister’s name continues

By Nikita Bishnoi | Hindustan Times, Jaipur, Jaipur
UPDATED ON DEC 14, 2018 08:12 AM IST
As no formal announcement was made on the name of the chief minister for Rajasthan, speculation continued as the time passed by.
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File photo of Kirodi Lal Meena who re-joined BJP in March this year after a gap of 10 years.(HT File)
File photo of Kirodi Lal Meena who re-joined BJP in March this year after a gap of 10 years.(HT File)

Rajasthan Assembly Election Results 2018: Kirodi Lal Meena factor failed to work for the BJP

By Urvashi Dev Rawal | Hindustan Times, Jaipur
PUBLISHED ON DEC 13, 2018 03:11 PM IST
Kirodi Lal Meena, who rejoined the BJP in March this year after a 10 year hiatus, was expected to swing the Meena votes in BJP’s favour in the Rajasthan assembly election. He was a National People’s Party (NPP) MLA from Lalsot at the time of his return.
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Voters after casting their vote in village Padampura, near Ajmer, India, Friday, Dec. 7, 2018.(AP)
Voters after casting their vote in village Padampura, near Ajmer, India, Friday, Dec. 7, 2018.(AP)

Rajasthan Assembly Election Results 2018: In 14 constituencies, more NOTA votes polled than victory margin

By P Srinivasan | Hindustan Times, Jaipur
PUBLISHED ON DEC 13, 2018 02:38 PM IST
Rajasthan assembly election results: In 14 assembly seats in the state election, the victory margin was less than the votes polled for NOTA option.
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