Although the ruling Congress in Rajasthan has so far maintained distance from its tainted leaders,the party may not be able to ignore their political strength. Be it Mahipal Maderna and Malkhan Singh Bishnoi,lodged in jail in connection with the murder of government nurse Bhanwari Devi,or Babulal Nagar,who was recently suspended from the partys central leadership after being accused in a sexual assault case,the Congress leadership has identified their family members to contest on their seats.
It is ironical that while the Congress has suspended these members from primary membership,it itself is keen on roping in their wives,children or siblings to reach out to their communities.
The Maderna family,whose political power was consolidated by Mahipals father,Paras Ram Maderna,is the unanimous choice in the Jat stronghold of Osian constituency near Jodhpur. On Monday,when Paras Ram celebrated his 91st birthday,a huge crowd gathered on the occasion and villagers asked him who he wanted to nominate from the family for candidature in the upcoming Assembly polls.
With son Mahipal in jail,he said his first choice would be his daughter-in-law,Leela,a zila parishad member for the past 20 years. In previous elections,Leela campaigned for her husband and is well-versed with the constituency.
Till now Leelas daughter Divya,also an active zila parishad and PCC member,was touted to be fielded. There was also speculation that the Maderna family was disillusioned with the Congress,particularly Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot,for Mahipals suspension from the party and removal from the cabinet.
Rubbishing the rumours,Divya said,The Maderna family is diehard Congress loyalists. People can speculate anything but the truth is we have always stood by the Congress party and will continue to do so.
Reacting to questions surrounding her candidature following the suggestion made by her grandfather to field her mother,Divya said,My mother has been working for the party for over 20 years while I have been actively working for the last four years. Who do you think should contest? There has been an uproar in the constituency for a young face but as for me I will be most happy to see my mother be elected as the local legislator. However,for both of us the biggest worry of the hour is not to get a ticket but to ensure that my father gets justice. He has been wrongly implicated in a political conspiracy.
Jats hold a considerable 22 per cent voteshare in the state and out of the total 200 assembly seats,around 40 seats are taken by the community and in another 90 seats they are a deciding factor.
In neighbouring Luni,a seat held by Malkhan Singh Bishnoi,also lodged in jail in the Bhanwari case,the Bishnoi community is set to field Malkhans brother,Paras Ram Bishnoi. Paras Ram was also arrested in the case but released. He is said to have appeared for the candidature interviews held recently and has been lobbying for a ticket.
Former minister Babulal Nagar,a three-time MLA from Dudu,after being suspended from the party,is likely to choose either his brother Hazarilal Nagar or son Ravi Nagar. Sources said Hazarilal,Jaipur zila pramukh,has a stronger possibility of a ticket owing to his involvement in active political work.
Nagar is considered a significant leader,who could impact the parliamentary polls next year.