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Will BJP's 'Mission 25' in Rajasthan be marred by infighting?

By Shahnawaz Akhtar
March 27, 2014 23:59 IST
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As veteran Bharatiya Janata Party leader Jaswant Singh and former Union minister and vice president of the BJP Kisan Morcha Subhash Maharia have now made the infighting within the saffron party in Rajasthan public, chances of the ruling party touching the mark of 25 seats now seems impossible, say political observers. Shahnawaz Akhtar reports

Maharia was also denied the ticket because the party preferred Baba Ramdev’s candidate Sumedanand. Now both Singh and Maharia have filed their nominations as independents from Barmer and Sikar Lok Sabha constituencies respectively. While Singh is a powerful Rajput leader, the latter is a Jat leader who has a stronghold in Sikar.

There are 25 parliamentary constituencies in Rajasthan. In 2009 when the Congress had come into power, the Grand Old Party had sent 20 members of Parliament from here.

With the thumping victory of Vasundhara Raje-led BJP in the state, and a win of 163 out of 200 seats in the assembly polls, the party had declared that it would win all the seats in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

However, political observers have put a question mark on the ruling party’s ambition after Sonaram Choudhary, a former Congress leader bagged the ticket from Barmer instead of Singh.\

After the denial of ticket to Singh, BJP cadres, especially the Rajput community, is angry across the state. There were reports of them locking the district party office in Barmer and burnt effigies and tearing posters of the party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and party president Rajnath Singh.

Even Ghanshyam Tiwari, who had won the assembly polls with the highest margin by any other candidate, was denied a ticket from the JaipurCity area. This has sent a negative message among the Brahmin voters in the state, as Tiwari was also not given a cabinet berth even after his spectacular performance.

“The BJP is performing a virtual harakiri in Rajasthan. After the Singh episode, the Rajput community is angry with Raje. While her gamble of preferring a Jat leader from Barmer seat may boomerang since the Jats are not a divided community in the state, Rajputs have always been closer to the BJP,” reacted senior journalist Om Saini.

The story doesn’t end here. Ironically, despite the BJP-led government having a woman as a CM, the party has fielded only one female contestant -- Santosh Ahlawat for the upcoming elections.

Saini said, “Along with Singh, denial of a ticket to Tiwari and wrong selections in Sikar, Alwar and Dausa constituencies and several other seats have lessened the chance of the party to a half.” 

And, Raje, who had made several promises to the minority community during the assembly polls did not consider a single Muslim leader as its Lok Sabha candidate.

“The BJP seeks Muslim votes but do not want to give them representation in the assembly or Parliament, and now we have no doubt about that,” said Ashfque Kayamkhani, a social activist.

While several major leaders have been denied tickets, it was actually distributed on a quota basis. Some have been given tickets on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh preference, while others were chosen on Ramdev’s preference, who had made his dislike clear for not fielding candidates of his choice. And to pacify him, the party fielded two candidates to his liking from the Sikar and Alwar constituencies.

After the announcement of tickets of Sikar and Alwar, BJP cadres protested in the two constituencies as well. Significantly, the ruling party, which suffers from infighting right now, has not only to face its arch-rival, the Congress to make clean sweep, but also the Aam Aadmi Party.

However, party leaders still have hope that ‘Mission 25’ would be accomplished as the denial of tickets is a small issue. “There is a Modi wave, and Raje will also have here effect, because of her works in the three months, so all these small issues do not matter,” claimed state BJP spokesperson Vimal Katiyar.

Image: Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje.

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