Rajasthan BJP Triggers “Mission 25”
Vasundhara Raje, who is playing her second innings as the Chief Minister, is gearing up to make the “Mission 25” possible. The BJP, having received a massive verdict with 163 winners, is likely to field more than half a dozen winners from the present stable to contest the 25 seats for the Lok Sabha election. The BJP which could win only four Lok Sabha seats in the 2009 election is happily placed as it is a party in power, a distinct advantage that the Congress enjoyed in 2009 when as many as 20 party nominees won the Lok Sabha election.
According to party sources, in this Vidhan Sabha election as the stress was on winning as many seats as possible, the best of the lot was given nomination and majority of them scored facile victories. The party having exhausted all the options in a positive and successful way would like to field 8 to 10 winners of the Vidhan Sabha election for the bigger Lok Sabha election. In fact, Vasundhara Raje, while forming her small Cabinet, took into consideration several aspects as a number of the Vidhan Sabha winners will have to be fielded
Those who are likely to be fielded in the Lok Sabha elections are Princess Diya Kumari, who is likely to be fielded from Jaipur. But in case Ghanshyam Tiwari is reluctant to join the cabinet or refuses to become the Speaker, then he would be the party’s candidate for the Jaipur Lok Sabha seat having won the Sanganer seat with over 60,000 votes.
The party may field Jhotwara constituency winner Rajpal Singh Shekhawat against Union minister Lal Chand Kataria who was elected from Jaipur (rural) in the Lok Sabha election. Shekhawat had defeated Kataria in the 2008 Assembly election and would be at advantage against Kataria. Interestingly, the Congress fielded Kataria even after the Assembly election loss and Kataria emerged winner against Rao Rajendra Singh, who was re-elected from Shahpura.
The BJP’s national vice president Kiran Maheshwari from Rajsamand, and Srichand Kripalani, who was twice elected from Chittorgarh, would in all likelihood be fielded against Union minister Girija Vyas and Om Birla from Kota against the scion of the Kota royal family Ijjayraj Singh and Bhagirath Choudhry from Ajmer against Union minister Sachin Pilot. There is all likelihood of former Union minister Jaswant Singh contesting from Barmer. He was elected from Darjeeling with the support of the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha as he supported the cause of a separate Gurkhaland.
But under the changed circumstances, Jaswant Singh has decided to contest from Barmer as the Muslims of both Barmer and Jaisalmer voted in large number for the BJP. Jaswant Singh will have the option to reach Parliament through the March biennial election for the Rajya Sabha, where the party is in a position to win all the three seats as the Congress will not have adequate votes to elect even a single member. In case Jaswant opts for Rajya Sabha, his son Manvendra Singh, who was elected from Sheo and is a former member of Lok Sabha, would be pitted against the AICC secretary Harish Choudhry.
There is a speculation that with the dismal performance by Congress in Bhilwara, which is the Lok Sabha constituency of the AICC general secretary and former Union minister CP Joshi, he may contest from his home district of Rajsamand replacing the Congress member GS Shekhawat. But the party is keen to field second to winner from Bhilwara Vithal Awasthi, a Brahmin in case Joshi shifts to Rajsamand. But if Joshi stays in fray from Bhilwara, he is likely to face the Rajya Sabha member VP Singh, who was twice elected from Bhilwara before he lost to Joshi in 2009. VP Singh still has three-year tenure left, but he would like to contest Lok Sabha as this would strengthen his claim to become a Union leader as a senior leader of the BJP.
Alka Singh Gujjar, wife of Nathu Singh Gujjar, a former minister, may be fielded against Union minister Namo Narayan Meena from Sawaimadhopur-Tonk seat. Anita Katara is likely to be fielded from Banswara (ST), where the Congress in all probability would field former minister Mahendrajit Singh Malviya. The party in all probability will ask Bahadur Singh Koli to contest Bharatpur (SC) seat. Under the changed circumstances, because of the death of the Congress patriarch Sis Ram Ola, the party may field Pooran Saini, a Mali who won from Khetri or Santosh Ahlawat.
There is a possibility of the BJP fielding Dr Hari Singh Choudhry who was once elected from Sikar on Congress ticket or may try former Union minister Subhash Maharia, who lost the Vidhan Sabha election against Mahadev Singh Khandela. Mahadev Singh lost the 2008 Assembly election, but was fielded against Maharia in Lok Sabha elections and won. The BJP may try the Congress trick.
According to party sources, the selection of candidates for the Lok Sabha seat would be done at several layers. The party after the formation of the cabinet would begin the exercise of preparing a list of probable candidates. But the list will finally be approved by Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s own team of election managers.
Basing the results of the Vidhan Sabha elections, where the electors voted highly in favour of the BJP in all the 25 seats, the Congress will have to face an uphill task as it could gain lead in just one Lok Sabha constituency. In the reserved seat of Karauli-Dholpur the Congress was ahead of the BJP by 51,000 votes in the six Assembly segments. The party won four seats in this constituency. The seat is with the Congress.
By PB Chandra From Jaipur