Elections 2014: `Maharani` woos Rajasthan for BJP

Having bagged 62 of the total 200 seats in the assembly polls, the BJP hopes of a spectacular performance in the Lok Sabha polls.

By Ajith Vijay Kumar | Updated: Apr 03, 2014, 17:33 PM IST

Ajith Vijay Kumar

Having bagged 62 of the total 200 seats in the assembly polls, the BJP hopes of a spectacular performance in the Lok Sabha polls. With 25 seats, the western state is an important cog in `Modi as PM` plan.

While Rajasthan has always voted in a pattern – the party that wins the assembly elections gets the voter`s favour in Lok Sabha polls – the reality on the ground is more complex this time.

The caste and community calculations, that form the very basis of the manner in which the state votes may once again be central to the calculations of the principle opponents – the BJP and the Congress.

This despite the BJP`s claims of an undercurrent of `Modi wave` that it hopes will override all other factors. As per a recent opinion poll, 48 percent of those asked wanted him to be prime minister, up from 30 percent in 2013.

Given the high voter turn out – 75% - in the assembly elections, it is clear that the state is rooting for change but after last minute soap by the UPA government by way of Jat reservation, the field has opened up again.

Though Jats constitute only 14% of the population but they have always played a vital role in government formation. The community along with Muslims were traditional Congress supporters before Atal Bihari Vajpayee gave OBC status to the community, turning them towards the BJP.

Then there are the caste conflicts: Jats vs Rajputs, Gurjars vs Meenas. The competition among castes for quota reservations, which in turn ensures power, has been a recurring theme in the state.

Meenas were the first to enter the hallowed ST status club and it has given them dividends with the community now boasting of hundreds of IAS and IPS officers. The Meenas have been traditionally at loggerheads with the Gurjars and hence it was no wonder that Gurjars mobilised massive protests to ensure that they also get shifted from the OBC category to the SC category.

However, there`s one political force in the state that has successfully overcome the deep caste divisions – it is the lure of `Maharani` Vasundhara Raje.

Raje represents an umbrella of castes traditionally hostile to each other. While is a Maratha royal, a Rajput, by birth; she is a Jat by virtue of her marriage; she is a Gurjar mother-in-law.

She also plays on the advantage by always asserting that she treats the 36 communities of Rajasthan as her parivar.

Also by making conscious attempts to not wear her blue blood on her sleeves and mix with commoners, she has endeared herself to the masses and paved way for her emergence as a mass leader with the X factor.

Her stature has also grown within the party given the manner in which the party top brass had to bow to her demand that senior leader Jaswant Singh be not given ticket from Barmer. The constituency is now posed for a three-cornered electoral battle between Jaswant Singh as an Independent candidate, Col Sonaram Chouddhary who shifted from the Congress to the BJP and Harish Choudhary, the sitting MP from the Congress.

At least five more constituencies – Ajmer, Dausa, Jaipur Rural, Kota, Jhalawar – are set to witness keen contests.

Brothers, former union Minister of State for Finance Namo Narain Meena of the Congress will battle it out with his brother former IPS officer Harish Chandra Meena, who is contesting the election on a BJP ticket.

Shooter-turned-politician Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore is aiming the electoral pot of victory for the BJP against Congress heavyweight CP Joshi.

Vasundhara Raje`s prestige is at stake in Jhalawar where his son Dushyat Singh is facing stiff challenge from senior Congress leader and former state cabinet minister Pramod Jain Bhaya.
In Kota, ex-royal Ijyaraj Singh of the Congress is fighting it out against senior BJP leader Om Birla.
The other big duel would be Ajmer where Sachin Pilot, the face of the Congress in Rajasthan after the washout in assembly elections, is being challenged by Rajasthan Water Resources minister Sanwarlal.