For Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, the assembly bypoll to Dholpur is a prestige battle, and not just because she married into the erstwhile royal family of Dholpur.
It was here that she contested her first election in 1985, defeating Congress candidate Banwari Lal Sharma. It was Sharma again who defeated her in 1993, after which she made Jhalawar her turf. And Sharma, now 78, a five-time MLA and former minister, is contesting once again.
Besides, the Congress has won three of the four bypolls held in the state since the 2013 assembly elections. Even in the assembly polls, the BJP could win only one (Baseri) of the four seats in Dholpur district, with the rest going to the BSP and the other two to the Congress.
The BJP candidate is a debutante, Shobharani, wife of the BSP winner, B L Kushwaha, now disqualified as MLA after he was sentenced to life for murder. The entire state BJP leadership — including state president Ashok Parnami, besides Raje and her MP son Dushyant — has thrown their weight behind Shobharani.
State Congress president Sachin Pilot, who too has been campaigning extensively, has ridiculed the BJP over the choice of its candidate. In 2015, when the Congress won the civic body polls in Dholpur and Jhalawar, Pilot had termed it a no-confidence vote against Raje. The bypoll, therefore, is a test for Pilot too.