As the farmers of Rajasthan protest in the streets demanding loan waiver that the Congress had promised during assembly elections, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot is busy in campaigning for his son, Vaibhav Gehlot, from Jodhpur
Agnima Sharma from Jaipur
The stage seems all set in Rajasthan for the Lok Sabha elections with two major parties, the BJP as well as the Congress, going busy in aggressive campaigning. While the BJP is communicating via its developmental projects and is channelising Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s governance record, the Congress, on the other hand, is banking yet again on its unfulfilled promises of loan waiver, jobs and other issues related to farm crisis.
Mahapadav by the Kisan Sabha in front of the District Collectorate’s office in Sikar against the failure of the state Congress government in implementing loan waiver
The BJP stands strong on the principle of honesty, while the Congress, on the other hand, is banking on dynasty politics with Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot fielding his son from his own constituency, Jodhpur. In this context, Prakash Javadekar, Union Minister of HRD, clearly says, “The coming elections will be held on two parameters; dynasty and honesty and people shall vote for the latter.”
RLP chief Hanuman Beniwal with Union minister Prakash Javadekar in Jaipur
BJP Alliance with RLP
In a major jolt to Congress, BJP in Rajasthan recently formed an alliance with Rashtriya Loktantrik Party, which came into being by Hanuman Beniwal, a former BJP MLA, before recent Rajasthan Assembly elections. The party in its maiden year secured three seats in Assembly too. With new alliance, RLP Convenor Hanuman Beniwal will contest election from Nagaur against Congress’s Jyoti Mirdha, who belongs to the Mirdha family, a politically influential family of Rajasthan.
BJP will contest elections on 24 seats out of 25. No candidate shall be fielded from Nagaur in view of the alliance. Beniwal shall campaign for the party in Rajasthan where there is considerable Jat voter base. Speaking to Organiser, Beniwal said, “I am supporting BJP in the national interest to make Narendra Modi PM again.” In the last few days, public sentiments have changed. Everyone seems to be in favour of Modi after the Pulwama terrorist attack. Even my party workers shared the same opinion. Hence, I preferred forming an alliance as I could not let the interest of the country suffer and make my party workers angry, he added.
The BJP sources said that Hanuman Beniwal’s Rashtriya Loktantrik Party shall help the party in winning at least five to seven seats. Beniwal is a prominent Jat leader in Rajasthan with considerable influence in at least seven out of 25 Lok Sabha seats including Sikar, Jodhpur, Barmer, Jhunjhunu and Nagaur. He will also campaign for BJP in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana states with considerable Jat population.
It needs to be noted here that this is Beniwal’s third tenure as MLA in Rajasthan. In 2013, he contested as an Independent after being suspended from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) following his remarks on corruption about some party leaders. Beniwal opined. “The Congress has ruined the nation. Now is the time to rectify things. There is no leadership in the ruling party and it is divided into factions here. Even Rahul Gandhi’s leadership does not remain effective. Congress will limit itself to 70 seats in the parliamentary elections as after the surgical strikes, they will lose what all they had,” he added.
The elections this time look different from the earlier Lok Sabha elections in many perspectives. First, the present government’s working has continuously been kept under lens by voters who are evaluating each and every promise being made by the party. Feeling cheated and befooled by the Congress, which promised loan waiver to farmers three months back, they opine that they were trapped in a net for their self seeking objectives.
Protest by farmers in Rajasthan
Here, it needs to be furnished that the ruling party (Congress) during assembly elections made tall promises. Farm loan waiver and unemployment allowance were two promises among many others being made to lure the voters.
However, even after three months, the waiver is still being awaited by farmers, which as promised should have been fulfilled within 10 days of the formation of the government. “Over three months have gone, but still there is no clarity on this promise. We have been running from pillar to post to get the same,” says a hapless farmer, Shambu Singh.
Even the unemployed in the state have lost their hopes of getting unemployment allowance as the state government has introduced many riders in their announcement. “The government befooled us by promising the unemployment allowance in March despite knowing that model code of conduct shall be implemented in the due month,” said a student leader Rajeev Rathore expressing his anger on Congress government.
Congress Jaipur candidate Jyoti Khandelwal caught in a sting operation
Congress has been left red-faced in Rajasthan with its Jaipur candidate Jyoti Khandelwal caught live in a sting operation while promising to give tender to a known person if she is elected as an MP after she was offered Rs 5 crore by a person who is posing as a contractor. In the sting video, a person is heard talking to Khandelwal and her husband Sharad Khandelwal. He offers Rs 5 crore in lieu of the contracts to be given to him under MP fund once Khandelwal is elected to the Parliament.
Meanwhile, the party leadership in the state is mum over the issue. However, sources confirmed that Congress central leadership is not too happy with the scenario and hence has called Gehlot to Delhi to discuss if a change in the name of the candidate can be considered as a damage control exercise.
Going further, the political launch of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s son, Vaibhav Gehlot, from CM’s constituency Jodhpur despite the opposition from his own party also brings to notice the desperation of the party for dynasty politics. With the Congress playing the dynasty card, the voters are minutely observing how Gehlot is busy in ensuring his son’s rise leaving all significant tasks aside, says Union Minister of State Gajendra Singh Shekhawat adding, “The crucial projects in the state stands at bay as CM is busy campaigning for his son.”
Further, the tussle between Chief Minister Gehlot and Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot also comes to the fore with junior Gehlot given ticket from Jodhpur amid strong opposition by the latter who also holds the position of state Congress president. The infighting within the party workers opposing this candidature is yet again been watched with keen interest by one and all.
The third factor in the state to make elections interesting is the falling popularity of the newly formed government in just three months of time period. The poor governance in the state on all fronts; administration, law, medical stream and many more is a matter of worry for each and every citizen here. Surprisingly, there has been no check on the rising number of swine flu patients in the state. The death toll from this virus has already crossed 2000 mark. However, the state Health Minister Dr Raghu Sharma seems least bothered by the same.
Since January, he has been busy in campaigning for Alwar polls, which were postponed after the death of BSP candidate during Assembly elections and after that he has been engaged in the Lok Sabha elections.
Stories of poor governance don’t end here with farmers too protesting on street. Their strong protest staged recently in Sikar raised many questions on tall claims made by the Congress during assembly elections. Can Congress still win hearts by making similar promises which it made in assembly elections despite knowing the fact that it has failed on deliverables for the same, questions Devi Singh, a farmer from Sikar belt? “We voted for Congress this time trusting that our loan will be waived in 10 days. This will be magical. But nothing turned true and our dreams shattered as even after 90 days, there is just no clarity on loan waiver,” he says.
In a feeble voice, he adds, “In fact, BJP was quite transparent and clear when it announced a loan waiver of Rs 50,000 last year. However, in this case, we are clueless and our only option is to wait and watch,” he added. Recently, farmers in Sikar also burnt the effigy of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot to wake up the government from slumber.
“This seems to be the only option available to wake up the government from its slumber. We are protesting on the streets to get our demands being fulfilled,” says Pema Ram, Rajasthan state president of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS). After a massive rally taken out on March 5, we burnt down the effigy of Rajasthan Chief Minister to highlight Congress government’s failure in implementing promises made during the recently concluded Assembly elections, he adds.
Going further, the people in the state from economically backward class are also aggrieved as they are yet to get benefits of the 10% quota as promised by Modi government. The ruling government intentionally delayed its implementation and as a result, the beneficiaries could not receive the required certificate from the government.
Similarly, the farmer beneficiaries in the state who were promised Rs 6,000 a year by Modi government also failed to get any due benefit as their names were not uploaded on PM’s portal by the state government.
Surprisingly, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Rajasthan had to slam state government’s vendetta politics from the stage during his visit to Rajasthan which did not allow even a single farmer beneficiary’s name to be uploaded under PM Kisan Samman Nidhi Scheme and therefore not even one farmer got the first instalment of Rs 2000. Soon after, the administration fastened the work and started uploading the names on the same night. Hence, it won’t be wrong to say that as election time approaches near, there is simmering anger in all sections of Rajasthan which is brimming to a new height.
Here, it needs to be noted that the Congress won the Assembly elections by a slender margin of 0.50 per cent of votes in Rajasthan in December 2018. In Assembly elections, a total of 1,39,35,201 votes went into Congress kitty in Rajasthan, while BJP received 1,37,57,502 votes indicating that the BJP lost the elections with a marginal difference of over 1.70 lakh votes,” said a poll officer. The party-wise vote share declared by the Election Commission confirmed that Congress received 39.3 per cent votes while BJP garnered 38.8 per cent votes.
Now, what comes as a million dollar question is the fact that even after registering a victory with such a thin margin, can Congress make a comeback in Lok Sabha elections when the state is witnessing anarchy in all divisions? Do they have a right even to dream so? Let’s wait and watch as to who comes as the winner-honesty or dynasty!