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Rajasthan Elections 2018: Long yatras and big rallies jam the state


BJP and Congress are seeking to outdo each other in reaching out to people ahead of the election, with seemingly mixed results so far.

The BJP and Congress are seeking to outdo each other in reaching out to people ahead of the election, with seemingly mixed results so far. CM Vasundhara Raje’s Gaurav Yatra witnessed protests in Jodhpur and Bikaner while she got an overwhelming response in Udaipur. The Congress has also hit the ground with its ‘Sankalp’ rallies, where it is striving to present a united face. Rituraj Tiwari takes stock...

High Court Jolt to BJP

In a major decision, the Rajasthan High Court has directed the BJP not to organise any government programme during the Gaurav Yatra. As a result, the government will not be able to announce or inaugurate any scheme during the yatra. The court’s decision came on a public interest litigation filed by lawyer Vibuti Bhushan Sharma alleging misuse of government machinery and public money in organising a political party’s yatra being led by the chief minister.

Raje Cashes In On Protests
The CM faced protests and stone pelting during her yatra in Jodhpur division, the bastion of Ashok Gehlot. But she turned the stern opposition on the ground to her favour by terming it as an insult to women. “They want to scare a woman, but maybe they are forgetting that woman power is not going to be scared of anyone. Even if I die for the sake of Rajasthan, I will consider it my good fortune,” she said, evoking sympathy from various quarters. She also alleged that the protest was stage-managed. “The opposition has got scared of the massive response BJP is getting during yatras. They are just trying to unsettle us. But we are not going to bow down,” she said.

The Front of Smaller Parties

Smaller parties in the state such as JD(S), CPI, CPM, CPI (ML), Samajwadi Party (SP), MCPI(U) and Rashtriya Lok Dal have joined hands to fight the BJP and Congress under the banner of United Democratic Front. These parties may not win many seats but could affect the results on at least 25 seats where they have some influence.

Wooing Rajputs Back
Rajputs are reported to be angry with BJP over several factors including ‘fake encounter’ of Anand Pal Singh. To woo Rajputs, the BJP appointed Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat as convenor of the election management committee. Shekhwat has a strong hold on his community, especially in Marwar region. Shekhawat’s influence is also expected to balance out the “rebellion” of another Rajput BJP MLA, Manvendra Singh from Sheo (Barmer), who is likely to part ways with the party. Going against the party line, Singh is organising a ‘Swabhiman’ or self-respect rally in Barmer on September 22. Rajputs, who comprise 7-8% of state’s population, have been traditional voters for the BJP since the era of party stalwart Bhairon Singh Shekhawat.

Amit Shah Factor
BJP’s national president Amit Shah is scheduled to visit Rajasthan several times between September 11 and October 4 to mobilise grassroots workers for the polls. He will address various sections of workers, including SC/ST, professionals and farmers, separately. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat is also scheduled to visit Rajasthan. Visits of both Shah and Bhagwat are expected to energise BJP and RSS cadres.

Big Monsoon Offers, Waivers
Raje has announced loan waivers for farmers, smartphones for more than one crore Bhamashah card holders and 4% cut in value-added tax on petrol and diesel to provide relief ahead of assembly election. Passing through the tribal belt of Dungarpur and Banswara, she announced waiver of farm loans of 12,000 tribal farmers in addition to the `8000-cr farm loan waiver that she had announced in state budget, benefiting over 30 lakh farmers. She invited newly recruited teachers and other beneficiaries who got jobs during her tenure to a state-level programme and committed that she would create more jobs if she comes back to power. She also waived loans of entrepreneurs belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to woo these communities.
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