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|February 4, 1998|
BJP banks on family ties in Rajasthan
Family ties continue to play an important role for the Bharatiya Janata Party in the allotment of party tickets for the February 16 poll even though the Congress soft-pedalled the issue by mostly retaining its sitting MPs in Rajasthan.
Five of the 25 BJP candidates for the Lok Sabha election in the state are related to certain prominent leaders. Of them, three have been given a second chance.
The party has renominated senior party leader and former minister Devi Singh Bhati's son Mahendra Singh for the second time for the Bikaner seat which he held in the dissolved Lok Sabha.
Another MP Nihal Chand, who is the son of former MP Begarm, has been renominated for the Ganganagar (scheduled caste) seat. Former minister Ram Deo Singh Maheriya's son Subhash is contesting from Sikar, where he lost to the Congress's Hari Singh in 1996.
Former Union minister Kalyan Singh Kalvi's son Lokendra Singh has been fielded from Barmer. Former Union minister Ram Nivas Mirdha's nephew Richhpal, who joined the BJP on the eve of the election, is contesting from Nagaur which Nathuram Mirdha won six times.
The Congress retained Usha Meena for the Sawai Madhopur (scheduled tribe) seat. She is the daughter of party stalwart and former MP Chhutan Lal Meena and wife of senior IAS officer Dharma Singh Meena. Similarly, Colonel Sona Ram, a relative of Ram Niwas Mirdha, has been renominated from Barmer.
Keeping in view the caste factor, candidates from the Jat community have been given more nominations this time by both the Congress and the BJP while the number of Brahmins has come down.
In the Congress list for 18 general seats, seven went to Jat candidates as compared to five in the last election. They are Balram Jakhar (Bikaner), Narendra Budainia (Churu), Jagdeep Dhankar (Jhunjhunu), Hari Singh (Sikar), Natwar Singh (Bharatpur), Sona Ram (Barmer) and Ram Raghu Nath Chaudhary (Nagaur).
The party also gave tickets to five other backward class candidates -- Ghasi Lal Yadav (Alwar), Ashok Gehlot (Jodhpur), Rajesh Pilot (Dausa), Prabha Thakur (Ajmer) and Udai Lal Anjana (Chittorgarh). In 1996, the party gave just three tickets to the candidates in this category.
As compared to two Rajputs last time, the Congress nominated only one -- Bharat Singh (Jhalawar). The number of Brahmin contestants also came down to two from three in 1996. Girija Vyas (Udaipur) and Rampal Upadhyaya (Bhilwara) represent Brahmins in the list.
The party has also fielded a Muslim Syed Goodage (Jaipur) and A Vaishya (Bania). It has also fielded scheduled tribe candidate Ram Narain Meena in the general quota.
In the BJP's list of general seats, Rajputs, Jats and Vaishyas are the gainers at the cost of Brahmins and OBCs. Four Jats -- Ram Singh Kaswan (Churu), Subhash Maheriya (Sikar), Richhpal Mirdha (Nagaur) and Dr Digamber Singh (Bharatpur) -- figured in the list as compared to three in 1996. Nomination of OBCs went down to three from four in 1996.
Four Rajputs -- Mahendra Singh Bagti (Bikaner), Vasundhara Raje (Jhalawar), Jaswant Singh (Chittor) and Lokendra Singh Kalvi (Barmer) were nominated as against three in 1996.
Two Brahmins -- Giridhari Lal Bhargava (Jaipur) and Raghuveer Singh Kaushal (Kota) -- were fielded in 1996.
Three Vaishya candidates have been fielded this time. They are Ghuman Mal Lodha (Pali), Shanti Lal Chaplot (Udaipur) and Subhash Bahedia (Bhilwara).
The party did not give any tickets to minority candidates.
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