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Eclipsed, Vasundhara, Gehlot Campaign For Sons

April 15, 2024 16:25 IST
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While the going for Dushyant Singh in Jhalawar is not tough, winning Jalore is a tough battle for Vaibhav Gehlot.

IMAGE: Bharatiya Janata Party Vice President Vasundhara Raje campaigns for her son, BJP candidate Dushyant Singh, in the Jhalawar-Baran Lok Sabha constituency. Photograph: Vasundhara Raje/X

Two former chief ministers and state heavyweights in their respective parties, Vasundhara Raje of the Bharatiya Janata Party and Ashok Gehlot of the Congress, who opted out of contesing the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, are busy campaigning for their sons.

Vasundhara Raje's son Dushyant Singh, a four-time MP from Jhalawar-Baran, is hoping to equal his mother's record; Vasundhara Raje represented the constituency five times and served as a Union minister before coming to state politics.

Vasundhara Raje, who was sidelined by the BJP's current leadership and was denied the chief minister's post after last year's Vidhan Sabha election, is focusing on the Jhalawar-Baran seat and is not campaigning much in the other 24 Lok Sabha seats in Rajasthan.

Vasundhara Raje has been ignored by the party as a star campaigner; however, she is a member of the party's manifesto committee. She did not have much say in ticket disbursement, which forced her to confine herself to her son's constituency.

The Jhalawar seat is dominated by the BJP, which has retained the seat for 35 years.

Dushyant Singh is opposed by Urmila Jain Bhaya, whose husband Pramod Jain Bhaya, a former minister in Ashok Gehlot's cabinet, is a force to reckon with in the Hadauti region.

In the 2019 election, Urmila Jain Bhaya -- the zilla pramukh of Baran, a district headquarters under the Jhalawar-Baran constituency -- lost to Dushyant by a mere 52,000 votes.

Vasundhara Raje was herself elected from Jhalrapatan, which is a part of the Jhalawar-Baran Lok Sabha constituency.

After the 2014 Lok Sabha election, Vasundhara Raje has been at loggerheads with Narendra D Modi and Amit A Shah, who have trimmed her role in the Rajasthan BJP.

The rift with Modi and Shah deepened when Vasundhara's request for a ministerial berth for her son after the 2019 Lok Sabha election was rebuffed.

Modi and Shah continued to ignore her after the 2023 Vidhan Sabha election though some 45 of her loyalists were elected to the assembly.

At a meeting of newly elected MLAs in Jaipur in December, she was asked to endorse Bhajanlal Sharma as chief minister.

If he wins the 2024 election, Dushyant could be appointed a minister of state, as part of the reported political settlement reached between Vasundhara and the current BJP hierarchy. That is, of couse, if the BJP forms the next government in New Delhi.

IMAGE: Senior Congress leader Ashok Gehlot campaigns for son Vaibhav Gehlot, the party candidate for the Jalore-Sirohi Lok Sabha seat in Rajasthan, April 10, 2024. Photograph: Ashok Gehlot/X

The Congress party in Rajasthan looks dispirited after losing the 2023 assembly election with senior party leaders reluctant to contest the Lok Sabha election. Among them were Sachin Pilot, Ashok Gehlot, Pradesh Congress Committee President Govind Singh Dotasara and C P Joshi.

Eventually, former Vidhan sabha speaker C P Joshi was reportedly compelled to contest the Lok Sabha election from Bhilwara.

Gehlot, who represented Jodhpur in the Lok Sabha five times beginning 1980, served as a Union minister and returned to state politics and was chief minister thrice.

While he lost his grip on Jodhpur, he continued to win the Vidhan Sabha elections from the Saradarpura constituency.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha election, Gehlot fielded son Vaibhav from Jodhpur, but he lost to the BJP's Gajendra Singh Shekhawat by over 200,000 votes.

IMAGE: Vasundhara Raje with son Dushyant Singh and BJP President J P Nadda at an election rally, April 3, 2024. Photograph: Vasundhara Raje/X

Vaibhav Gehlot is now contesting the Jalore-Sirohi seat which has a mix of Rajput, Bishnoi, Mali, Anjana Choudhry, Patel communities and Scheduled Tribes. His opponent is Limba Ram, an Anjana.

This seat was won by Devji Patel in 2014 and 2019. This constituency was represented in the past by then Union home minister Buta Singh and Susheela Laxman, whose husband Bangaru Laxman was once BJP national president.

While the going for Dushyant Singh in Jhalawar is not tough, winning Jalore is a tough battle for Vaibhav Gehlot.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/

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