BJP, Congress locked in intense battle in Rajasthan
The fifth phase of Lok Sabha elections on Monday will witness intense battle between the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the 12 remaining parliamentary constituencies in Rajasthan.
Thirteen of the 25 Lok Sabha constituencies in Rajasthan had voted in the fourth phase of elections on April 29. The 12 seats going to the polls on Monday include Jaipur Rural, Jaipur, Ganganagar, Bikaner, Churu, Jhunjhunu, Sikar, Alwar, Bharatpur, Karauli-Dholpur, Dausa and Nagaur.
Two Olympians -- Union Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore of the BJP and Congress MLA from Sadulpur Krishna Punia -- are up against each other in the Jaipur Rural Lok Sabha constituency.
While Punia is confident of garnering the Jat votes in the area in addition to enjoying the support of the traditional Congress vote banks such as the Muslims and the SC/ST community, sitting MP Rathore is likely to corner the Rajput votes along those from the Brahmins and Baniyas.
As the Union Sports Minister, Rathore has revived kabaddi in the constituency besides pushing other sports in the region.
Another interesting battle will be fought in the Jaipur Lok Sabha constituency where the Congress has fielded Jyoti Khandelwal, a Vaishya face, against sitting BJP MP Ramcharan Bohra, a Brahmin contestant.
Interestingly, the Congress has fielded a woman candidate in Jaipur after 48 years, changing the dynamics of the seat which has traditionally been a Brahmin stronghold. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi's rally has instilled confidence among the BJP supporters in this seat, Congress too is trying its best to put a dent on the saffron party bastion.
In Bikaner, sitting BJP MP and Union Minister of State Arjun Meghwal is up against his cousin and Congress candidate Madan Gopal Meghwal.
While the Congress is confident of winning from Bharatpur and Karauli-Dholpur Lok Sabha constituencies, which are reserved seats, the late entry of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) may hurt Congress' prospects. Also, Modi's recent rally in Hindaun, the first by an Indian Prime Minister in 40 years, can change the equations.
Alwar will witness a battle between Congress' Bhanwar Jitendra Singh, who belongs to the erstwhile royal family of Alwar, and Mahant Baba Balaknath of the BJP. However, cow smuggling and mob lynchings in the name of cow protection have definitely affected the saffron party's image in this constituency.
Sikar will see a triangular contest between BJP's Swami Sumedhanand Saraswati, a confidante of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Congress' Subhash Maharia and CPI-M's Amra Ram.
In Dausa, an interesting clash is on the cards between two women from the Meena community -- Savita Meena of the Congress and BJP's Jaskaur Meena.
In Churu, the Congress has fielded Rafiq Mandelia, its only Muslim candidate in the state, who faces a tough fight from sitting BJP MP Rahul Kaswan.
BJP has not fielded any Muslim candidate in any of the 25 seats in Rajasthan.
Another interesting battle will be seen in Nagaur, where the BJP has formed an alliance with the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) fileding Hanuman Beniwal on behalf of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) against Congress' Jyoti Mirdha, who belongs to the influential Mirdha family here.
In Jhunjhunu, BJP's Narendra Khichar, a sitting MLA from Mandawa, will battle it out against Shrawan Kumar Tal of the Congress. Sitting BJP MP Santosh Ahlawat has been denied a ticket, which can pose problems for the BJP candidate this time.
In Ganganagar, the BJP has fielded its sitting MP Nihalchand Meghwal against Congress' Bharatram Meghwal. IANS