Following PM Modi’s Overtly Communal Remarks, Rajasthan’s 13 Seats Going to Polls in 2nd Phase — Know Who is Better Placed

Following his overtly communal speech in Banswara, Prime Minister Modi brought attention to the constituency, where the popularity of the Bharat Adivasi Party has predicted a fiercely contested election.
A BAP leader addressing a massive crowd during an election rally.
A BAP leader addressing a massive crowd during an election rally. Photo Credit: X/@roat_mla

New Delhi: Banswara district in southern Rajasthan that is going to polls on April 26 (the second phase of the ongoing general elections) is set to witness fierce battle. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has fielded Mahendrajeet Singh Malviya, a former Congressman who defected to the saffron party earlier this year, to take on Rajkumar Roat of the Congress-backed Bharat Adivasi Party (BAP).

A local strongman of the area, Malviya has served as an MP and MLA several times. On the other hand, Roat too is no ordinary contestant. He is a second-term MLA from Chorasi.

With three seats in the 200-member Rajasthan Assembly held by it, the BAP is a powerful force in the tribal-dominated Banswara-Dungarpur. Evident with the massive crowd in his rally, Raot’s popularity made even the Congress support his party. Interestingly, despite the grand old party’s support to the BAP, the electronic voting machines will also have a hand symbol as the former’s candidate, Arvind Damor, who refused to withdraw his nomination even after his party extended support to the latter.

Spotlight turned on the constituency after Prime Minister Narendra made an overtly communal remarks here, saying the Congress will snatch “gold” and “mangalsutra” of “mothers” and “sisters” and redistribute it among “those who produce more children” and “infiltrators”. where the popularity of the tribal party has predicted a fiercely contested election.

Along with Banswara, Rajasthan’s 13 other parliamentary constituencies, which include Tonk-Sawai Madhopur, Jodhpur, Jhalawar-Baran, Pali, Kota, Ajmer, Chittorgarh, Bhilwara, Rajsamand, Udaipur, Jalore, Banswara and Barmer are scheduled to cast ballots tomorrow.

Increased hostility between the Opposition Congress and the ruling BJP has been observed during the political campaign. As a result, the seats in southern and western Rajasthan are expected to see a razor-sharp contest.

A low voter turnout was recorded in the state’s 12 constituencies, where voting took place on April 19 (first phase). As per the Election Commission of India (ECI), the polling percentage stood at 57.87% as against 63.71% turnout recorded in 2019 — the year the BJP and its allies won all 25 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

PM Modi delivered the controversial speech amid speculations that the low voter turnout won’t benefit the BJP. While his address in Churu in 2019 following the Balakot airstrikes, in which he swore that he wouldn't let India back down, resulted in enormous popularity for the BJP, his current statement in Banswara has led to Opposition parties criticising the saffron party for “targeting” against Muslims.

As the Congress and the BJP are set to go all out in the second phase, take a look at the main election contests in a few northern state’s seats — which will vote on April 26.

Barmer: A triangular fight is taking place in the border district, which is expected to be one of the most exciting contests. Ummedaram Beniwal, who just defected from the Hanuman Beniwal-led Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) to join the Congress, has the backing of both the Congress and its ally, his previous party.

Beniwal faces off against Barmer MP and Union Minister Kailash Choudhary, who is vying for a second term in office.

Although Beniwal and Choudhary both belong to the Jat community, which accounts for a major portion of the Barmer seat’s voter base, the election has become more triangular due to the emergence of independent MLA from Barmer’s Sheo, 26-year-old Ravindra Singh Bhati, who is popular among younger generation.

He pulled huge crowds in his election campaign. He claims to have the backing of all communities, especially Muslims, who are an important voting bloc here.

With two Jat and one Rajput candidates, it is expected that Bhati, a Rajput, will get the support of his community, which is primarily BJP supporters. This has increased the unpredictability of the outcome.

Jodhpur: Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat is seeking a third term in office. He has been challenged by Rajput Karan Singh Uchiyarda of the Congress. Soon after being declared as a Congress nominee, Uchiyarda has been vocally criticizing Shekhawat and the BJP.

Jalore: Vaibhav Gehlot, the son of former Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, is running against Lumbaram Choudhary of the BJP in the nearby district. In 2019, Vaibhav contested from Jodhpur and lost to Shekhawat.

Pali: Here, BJP’s PP Chaudhary is fighting against the Congress’s Sangeeta Beniwal.

Battle for Mewar — BJP's Stronghold

On April 26, elections will also be held on four Mewar region’s seats: Chittorgarh, Bhilwara, Rajsamand and Udaipur. It is considered to be a strong bastion of the saffron party.

BJP’s State President Chandra Prakash Joshi, who is an incumbent MP, is running for the Lok Sabha from the Chittorgarh district against Udailal Anjana, a longtime leader of the Congress. 

The Congress party has fielded former bureaucrat Tarachand Meena against BJP candidate Manna Lal Rawat from Udaipur.

Senior Congressman CP Joshi, a former Union minister, has been fielded from Bhilwara to challenge BJP candidate Damodar Agarwal.

A descendant of the erstwhile Udaipur royal family, Mahima Kumari Mewar, has been pitted by the BJP against Damodar Gurjar of the Congress party.

Om Birla Confronts Old Acquaintance

Former BJP MLA Prahlad Gunjal, who joined the Congress shortly before the elections, is taking on Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla in Kota in one of the most intriguing political contests.

A heated election campaign emerged from the rift between the two, who were formerly close friends.

Gunjal is from the Gurjar community and has garnered significant backing in the Hadoti area; whereas, Birla has been an incumbent MP from here since 2014.

Dushyant Singh, the son of former Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, is running against Urmila Jain Bhaya of the Congress party for a fifth term in Jhalawar-Baran.

Even though Raje has not been involved in state politics since the BJP chose Bhajan Lal Sharma to be the chief minister, the seasoned politician has been actively supporting her son in Jhalawar.

Fight in Sachin Pilot’s Neighborhood

The reason the Tonk-Sawai Madhopur election is interesting is that Sachin Pilot, Tonk MLA and former deputy chief minister, has sway over the constituency.

The BJP has again fielded Sukhbir Singh Jaunapuria, who has won the seat twice in a row since 2014, while the Congress has placed its hopes on Harish Meena, a Pilot loyalist and local MLA.

Although Jaunapuria is a member of the Gurjar community, it is anticipated that Meena will also have some support from the group given that Pilot, a fellow Gurjar, has a great deal of support from the group.

In the nearby city of Ajmer, BJP leader Bhagirath Choudhary, who also represents the constituency in Lok Sabha, is giving a tough fight to Ramchandra Choudhary.

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