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It is usually the most highlighted fight: the candidates who take on the chief leaders of the various political parties. Often, the person so selected, even if not expected to win, is expected to cause trouble to the party leader, often the chief minister or aspiring chief minister.

It was with this in mind that the Congress chose Rama Pilot to contest against state BJP president Vasundhara Raje for the Jhalrapatan constituency in southeast Rajasthan. It was a strategic move: Rama Pilot is quite popular as the widow of Rajesh Pilot, one of the state's dynamic leaders who died tragically in a road accident in June 2000.

This means Vasundhara Raje has a fight even as she must campaign across the state while Pilot spends all her time in this constituency.

Reportage: Amberish K Diwanji in Jhalrapatan, south Rajasthan. Photographs: Uttam Ghosh

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Also see: Lotus Power in the Desert

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