A small Rajasthan town -- Sri Gangadhar -- going to polls on December 4 has an Independent candidate who is generating considerable interest among locals with his promises of opening of a rail track for trade between India and Pakistan.
Many voters who had crossed over from Pakistan to here backs Maninder Singh Mann's vision and have offered him support so that he can advocate for opening up the inter-border rail route.
"My thrust will be on development in the city's civic utilities and opening of the inter-border rail route for trade purpose between India and Pakistan. Already a rail route exists at the Hindumalkot point," says Mann.
Mann became popular among farmers and agricultural workers after he streamlined the local Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) administration and ensured right entries for produces.
"My dream now is to streamline the city's development progress, get new sewerage lines in place. And then I can campaign to open up the border for a trade route between India
and Pakistan. That, in turn, will contribute to the overall prosperity of the place and to the ailing local economy," Mann says.
Sitting BJP MLA Surendrasingh Rathore is also fighting as an Independent while veteran Congressman Radhe Shyam is fighting on a BJP ticket after defecting to the party.
The Congress has named newcomer Raj Kumar Gaur as its candidate.
Rathore was denied a ticket this time by his party after he developed differences with Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje.
The BJP alloted its ticket to Radhe Shyam, who faced the heat from the Congress.
According to sources, Raje wanted to field a candidate for securing votes of the Punjabi-speaking Sikhs and Aroras in the region and Shyam was the perfect choice.
Better civic conditions and trade and industry environment are the major demands in this town dominated by agrarian economy and located just five km from the Punjab border and about 28 km from Pakistan.
Gaur is seeking votes by highlighting the "brutalities" of the Raje government.
"Farmers were shot dead when they demanded water for their fields. There is corruption abound and little development. I am fighting this polls for the poor in our constituency," says Gaur.
Shyam is seeking attention from industry after a proposed industrial park in the area at his behest failed to take off.
"I want to give this city a three-star hospital, heavy industry and a rail workshop. And all this will be for the poor. I also want to implement the sewerage master plan that
was drafted during 1970s when I was the city municipality chairman," promises Shyam.
A political observer claimed that Shyam has been wanting to finish all his pending projects since he had not been re-elected over last two terms.
However, Mann's promise to get the Indo-Pak trade route opened had excited the local trading community even beyond those sharing his linguistic orientation, the observer said.
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