As the Congress and the BJP finalise their candidates in Rajasthan,rebels are emerging on both sides protesting against tickets denied to sitting or former legislators,and shifting their loyalties. Till late Monday evening,the Congress had announced 199 of 200 possible candidates,the BJP all 200. Nominations close Tuesday.
The BJP has more anger to deal with,but the Congress too is far from enjoying a smooth ride.
Both parties had anticipated such rebellion and therefore gone slow with the declaration of tickets. The Congress released a series of lists. The party has seen fewer protests as it has more or less stuck to predictable names,with Rahul Gandhis clean image mantra losing out to the traditional caste factor in Rajasthan.
However,the internal politics of one-upmanship among heavyweights has led to resentment from several quarters. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot failed to secure a berth for Health Minister Rajkumar Sharma in Navalgarh as Jat strongman Sis Ram Ola insisted on fielding Pratibha Singh,who had contested on the seat in the previous election. Sharma,in 2008 as a BSP candidate,had defeated Singh,and later joined the Congress with five others helping Gehlot form the government. Of all six former BSP leaders,five have got tickets and Sharma is the only one left out despite his significant hold in his constituency. Sharma has declared he will contest from the constituency as an independent.
Nokha in Bikaner has seen protests from within both the Congress and the BJP. Candidates Rameshwar Dudi of the Congress and Sahi Ram Bishnoi of the BJP both have drawn the ire of local party workers.
Following rampant protests against a new candidate,Priyanka Balan,who had been fielded from Anupgarh constituency in Sriganganagar,the BJP withdrew her candidature as it found much to its embarrassment that she was underage. Balan had claimed to be 25 but her matriculation certificates eventually indicated she was two years younger.
Several BJP leaders who were denied tickets are now expected to contest as independents. The potential rebel leaders include former cabinet minister Madan Dilawar,Manek Chand Surana and Narendra Kanwar.
Several BJP legislators have shifted loyalties to the newly formed National Peoples Party led in Rajasthan by Kirori Lal Meena. Babulal Birwa and Narendra Kanwar along with sitting legislators Anil Jain and Sukhram Koli joined the NPP and some of them have also secured tickets to their preferred seats. Jain will be contesting from Khanpur.
Minister opts out,then stays in race
JAIPUR: Rajasthans revenue minister,Hemaram Choudhary,refused to contest Monday the seat he represents,Gudamalani in Barmer,but eventually agreed when Rahul Gandhi reportedly spoke to him late at night. Choudhary will file his nomination on Tuesday.
Choudhary had been reluctant all along and had informed the high command but was named in the third list late Saturday night. On Monday,party workers waited at his house for him to proceed for filing his nomination,but he didnt appear. In the afternoon,he told a news channel over telephone,I am quite old and do not want to contest… The party has given me a lot and I will continue to work for the party. I have been with Congress for a long time and I think new faces should get an opportunity.