The election bugle has been sounded in Rajasthan, with the Bhartiya Janta Party releasing its list of 131 candidates for the assembly elections. While the names suggest an advantage to Vasundhara Raje, the same can’t be said for the BJP.
With 85 MLAs set to contest again, the much-hyped theory that BJP National President Amit Shah would be in charge of ticket distribution, has gone out of the window. Once again, Raje’s will prevails, and this sets the tone for the upcoming elections. Let’s see how this might work out and what implications it might have.
How Raje Can Still Hold Fort
Over the last fortnight, names of probables, criteria for selections have been the bone of contention between Shah and Raje. As per reports, Shah’s survey suggested that the names proposed by Raje don’t fit the “winnability clause”, and he wasn’t happy with what was offered.
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Her reason to stick with the old names was, it shows we are seeking votes on the development plank and are not shying away from the work done.
This didn’t go well with Shah and he returned the list for reconsideration, owing to which, a miffed Raje went back to Jhalawar in Rajasthan and locked herself up.
But on the night of 11 November, Raje emerged as the winner in the first bout of candidate selection. She persisted with the time-tested old names to safeguard herself in case BJP miraculously reversed the trend of coming back to power, second time in row. If this is the scenario post 11 December, Raje, with the old guard, would be better placed to hold fort in Rajasthan.
Raje Has a Clear Edge
It’s a clear edge to Raje so far as ticket distribution is concerned, but insiders in the RSS suggest that the list is balanced and their demands and agenda have been considered.
No Muslim candidate has featured in the list, with the notable emission of transport minister and a close Raje aide, Yunus khan.
Others like Kalicharan Saraf, Rajpal Singh Shekawat don’t feature in the list. Rural development minister Surinder Goyal lost his seat, but ministers with RSS background like Arun Chaturvedi, Vasudev Devnani and Gulab Chand Kataria will be contesting from their constituencies, namely, Civil Lines, Jaipur,Ajmer North, and Udaipur respectively.
While the MLAs have been lucky, the fate of many Cabinet ministers including the ones mentioned above, hangs in the balance. The most notable being Yunus Khan. Khan has been the lone Muslim face and was the closest minister to Raje. His ticket being held back is likely to be a bone of contention between Raje and RSS over the next few days. The grapevines have it that Saraf too didn’t score well on the RSS parameters, hence in limbo.
BJP’s ‘Dynasty’ Angle
‘Dynasty’ has been the favourite punching bag of the BJP when it comes to taking potshots at the Congress. However, this time around, of the 131, there have been a notable 11 constituencies where the BJP has decided to field the kins of their incumbent candidates.
Ramswaroop Lamba, son of former MP late Sawar Lal Jat (who lost the Ajmer Lok Sabha by-polls), Atul Bhansali (nephew of Jodhpur MLA Kailash Bhansali), Gurmit Singh Barar (grandson of Gurjant Singh), Sailesh Singh (son of late Digambar Singh), Poonam Kanwar (daughter-in-law of Devi Singh Bhati) have been fielded.
This time around, the ‘D-word’ will be missing from BJP’s arsenal. Now that the candidates have been declared, bucking the anti-incumbency on these faces will be a Herculean task.
Also reports claim that eight to ten dissidents from places like Kekri, Masuda in Ajmer and Mandalgarh in Bhilwara among others, will be contesting as independents.
With a mere 69 seats left to be declared, pushing fresh faces in the arena would do little good. The rank and file, and the dissidents were thinking ticket distribution would leave some space and chance for them to up the ante to reverse the anti-incumbency trend. But at the moment it looks like a distant dream.
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