A heavy star cast for Rajasthan by-poll: PM Modi, BJP president Amit Shah to campaign
It is going to be a no-holds barred battle in Rajasthan! That the ruling BJP would be leaving no stone unturned for the ensuing battle at the husting in Rajasthan by-elections this month-end is now clear from the list of the star campaigners it has announced. Not to be surprised! The names which top the list--which includes Union Ministers as well that of the State-- are of Prime Minister Narenda Modi, BJP national President Amit Shah and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
The long list of the star campaigners for by-elections to the Lok Sabha constituencies of Ajmer and Alwar and the Assembly seat of Mandalgarh, released by the BJP state headquarters on Thursday, has been cleared by none other than Amit Shah. The 40-strong list includes six union ministers, other than Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari, Piyush Goyal, C.R.Chowdhury, P.P.Choudhary, Arjunlal Meghwal and Gajendra Singh Shekhawat.
Of course, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje is on the top of the heap leading the assorted group of home-grown leaders including 12 Ministers from Rajasthan, starting with the senior most, Home Minister Gulabchand Kataria and followed by Rajendra Singh Rathore, Arun Chaturvedi, Hemsingh Bhadana-- to suit all the important caste denominations in the constituencies of Ajmer and Alwar. Among the campaigners include Raje’s son and MP from Jhalawar, Dushyant Singh, his wife, Niharika Raje, party functionaries including the Rajasthan BJP president Ashok Parnami.
The BJP has fielded Ramswarup Lamba, the son of the late Sanwarlal Jat, for Ajmer. Its nominee for Alwar is Jaswant Yadav, a former MP and presently a Minister in the State Cabinet. Both Jaswant Yadav and his Congress rival Karan Singh Yadav have represented Alwar seat in the past.
The Ajmer Lok Sabha seat is prestigious for both the Congress and the BJP as the seat was contested between Pradesh Congress President Sachin Pilot and Sanwarlal Jat, who was the chairman of the State Kisan Ayog at the time of his demise in August last year. Jat had won the seat in 2014 with a margin of 1.77 lakh votes. Though the Congress party has fielded a former MLA Raghu Sharma from the seat, the outcome is equally important for Pilot as the onus for a victory from the seat, represented by him in the past, is on him. Mandalgarh Assembly seat in Bhilwara district, which fell vacant after the death of BJP MLA, Kirti Kumari, too is no less prestigious as it falls within the former Lok Sabha seat of senior Congress leader C.P. Joshi. The Congress has fielded Vivek Dhakkad from the seat while the BJP nominee is Shakti Singh Hada.
“In a way this is conceding defeat on the part of the BJP,” argued Mahesh Joshi, former Congress MP talking to Catch News. “Never before in the State’s electoral history in my memory a Prime Minister has participated in a by-election,” he pointed out. The BJP leaders acted shy of commenting on the star campaigners’ lineup. “We are winning the by-elections,” said Om Birla, BJP MP from Kota. He also pointed out that just because the names were there on the list it was not necessary that the Prime Minister took part in the campaign.
The impressive lineup of the star campaigners is surely an indication of the importance the BJP gives to the by-elections in Rajasthan. It perhaps also betrays the unease in the party over the possible outcome of the by-polls as any adverse result would surely have an impact on the general mood in the state which will have its elections to the State Assembly in November-December.