Prestige at stake for Cong, BJP in polls to six civic bodies in Rajasthan starting Thursday

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Jaipur, Oct 28 (PTI) The prestige of both the major political parties, Congress and BJP, is at stake as six municipal corporations in three Rajasthan cities go to polls on Thursday. While the ruling Congress eyes to return to power in the urban bodies, riding on the confidence that the voters are satisfied with the state government's performance, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) faces a challenge to maintain its dominance.

More than 35.97 lakh voters will elect 560 ward councillors in two phases in the six newly-formed municipal corporations of Jaipur, Jodhpur and Kota (Jaipur Heritage, Jaipur Greater, Jodhpur North, Jodhpur South, Kota North and Kota South).

The first phase of polling will be held on Thursday in the Jaipur Heritage, Jodhpur North and Kota North municipal corporations, where over 16.54 lakh voters will cast their votes to elect 250 ward councillors.

The second phase of polling will take place on November 1 and the counting of votes will be taken up on November 3.

In the last polls, the BJP had formed its board in the three local bodies, which increased to six corporation areas after a delimitation exercise carried out by the Congress government in the state.

The corporation polls are being seen as a battle of prestige for many Union and state ministers, including Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. Jodhpur is Gehlot's hometown and Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat also belongs to the city.

Kota is the hometown of Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla as well as state minister Shanti Dhariwal.

The prestige of the Congress's chief whip in the Assembly, Mahesh Joshi, and minister Pratap Singh Khachariyawas is at stake in Jaipur, along with state BJP president Satish Poonia.

All three cities are known to be strongholds of the BJP. In the last election, the saffron party had formed its boards in all three cities and it hopes to repeat the feat. According to Poonia, the Congress has failed to live up to its promises made in the run-up to the 2018 state Assembly polls and the voters will teach the party a lesson.

'Development works have come to a standstill, so the frustrated and troubled voters are ready to teach the Congress a lesson in this election. I am confident that people have made up their mind to ensure the Congress's departure from the state with the local bodies polls,' the state BJP chief said.

State Congress president Govind Singh Dotasra exuded confidence that the voters of the three cities will give a stamp of approval on the work done by the party.

The Congress has worked for development, be it in the corporation areas or in cities, he told PTI, adding that people are satisfied with the historic work done by the state government during its nearly-two-year tenure, in spite of the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

'People are confident that the Congress is doing a good job by taking everyone along. They will surely stand with the Congress and the party will form the boards,' Dotasara said.

Joshi, who is overseeing the election management of the Congress in the Jaipur Heritage corporation, is also hopeful that the voters will go with the ruling party.

'Excellent plans for development, excellent management during the coronavirus pandemic and Chief Minister Gehlot's attempts to live up to the aspirations of the people.... The boards will be formed by the Congress,' he said.

It maybe noted that the Rashtriya Loktantric Party (RLP), a constituent of the BJP-led NDA at the Centre, is contesting the civic body polls on its own. PTI AG RC