Raje Kicks Off Yatra Fad
Vasundhara Raje, who has been given a free hand in handling the BJP’s election campaign in Rajasthan going to Assembly poll this November, has launched another yatra to galvanise party workers in the state.
Raje in 2003, when she was suddenly asked to lead the party in Rajasthan, had launched a Parivartan Yatra then. She became extremely popular and when the BJP won the Assembly elections in 2004, she became the automatic choice for chief minister’s post. But in the past four-and-a-half-year, she has faced the wrath of her own party which did not lend her any credence despite the fact that she commanded the faith and confidence of 78 party MLAs in the state.
But in a changed circumstances, the party leadership found that there was no better leader than her and senior party leader who served as the state unit president Gulab Chand Kataria was made the leader of Opposition in place of Vasundhara Raje after she was elevated as state party president.
Vasundhara is a force to reckon with was recognised when the Congress decided to launch its yatra before her yatra to counter her. Now, both the Congress and the BJP have embarked on yatras, which are being dubbed as the dress rehearsals for the electoral battle due in November-December this year.
Vasundhara is using the same <rath> used by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for his yatras. The rath is equipped with hi-tech gadgets, Internet with lounge and rest room.
Braving heat and dust, she will travel 13,000 km covering all the 200 Assembly seats and will address more than 225 meetings. The yatra will culminate on July 21 in Jaipur.
In 2003, Ashok Gehlot was the Chief Minister when Vasundhara had embarked on the Parivartan Yatra from Charbhuja temple. Her second yatra was taken out when Gehlot was in the helm of affairs and was started from Charbhuja again.
The Congress launched its Sandesh Yatra to publicise the state government’s developmental works and schemes undertaken for people during the past four years. The BJP’s Suraj Sankalp Yatra was flagged off from Charbhuja by party president Rajnath Singh aimed to cover all 200 Assembly constituencies.
The BJP’s Rajya Sabha member and a close confidant of Raje-Bhupendra Yadav said that the slogan of Naya Rajasthan was given by the BJP, but the Congress has stolen it and using Naya Rajasthan slogan coined by the BJP.
He said there is a panic in the Congress camp following the Vasundhara’s yatra and before the BJP could start its yatra, the Congress launched its Sandesh Yatra. Both the ruling Congress and the BJP will have to sustain the tempo of their election campaign during the next eight months in an attempt to win the people’s mandate.
“This Suraj Sankalp Yatra is different from the Parivartan Yatra of 2003. In Parivartan Yatra, I went to the people to introduce myself and know them. The Suraj Sankalp Yatra is also people-oriented and we want to know the plight of the people during the Congress reign. I want to see how the so-called flagship programme of the people benefited the masses and how they were implemented. The Congress is boasting of launching of a number of welfare programmes, but the benefits have not reached the people. I shall spend the next four months in awakening the people on their plight and by Suraj Yatra, we would give them an alternative. Our endeavour would be to touch the grassroots level workers of the party and use the synergy in bringing the party back to power,” said a beaming Raje. She has thrived in the past with her mass contact programme earning the goodwill of the people.
“I am going to meet people once again. My detractors were saying that I am an outsider to the state and became the chief minister by chance. I want to say that I came to the state from Gwalior as the <bahu> of Dholpur and would depart only after my death. Rajasthan is my home because I was married here and I have been representing the people,” added Raje.
Raje dispelled the allegations that she was instrumental in dividing the society by encouraging casteism. She said she never believed in caste and creed and when she joined the politics she was guided by her mother late Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia, who had said her never to encourage casteism.
She said that she had a dream for Rajasthan and she would hold her head high to achieve her dream and would not bother for the elements hell-bent to stop her.
The BJP which has three Muslims as MLAs is also trying to muster the support of the minority community. The minority community is not tagged to the Congress alone and it may lend support to the BSP and the Samajwadi Party as well. The BJP would like to woo the minority votes. The Congress would try to lure large number of Gujjar voters who had borne the brunt of police high-handedness during the reign of Vasundhra Raje-led BJP government.
Senior BJP leader Ghanshyam Tiwari, who along with former Union minister Jaswant Singh, were dumped when the party’s executive committee was reconstituted, are sore with Raje. The two leaders were not given any importance by party president Rajnath Singh.
BJP enjoys edge over the Congress in social media
The arrival of social media has greatly enhanced human communication. The new technology due to the participatory, interactive and cost-effective nature has barely made everyone who can use it a mass communicator. The emergence of social media is perhaps the most phenomenal among various platforms of communication made available by the advance in Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). The possibilities they have created in human communication and interaction are beyond bounds. By just processing a button today, one can stay right in his bedroom and access information, entertainment, events and enjoy full interaction with the world.
The use of social media in politics has continued to grow. In the last Gujarat Assembly elections one witnessed mass scale use of the social media for campaigning with massive use of mobile phones SMS, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
The political parties post their daily activities, pictures of their leaders, public gathering, invitation, reactions to rival parties’ actions, propaganda etc. There are also sites on social media which are used as proxy against the rival political parties to malign their leadership.
In Rajasthan, eight months before the Assembly elections, both the ruling Congress and the BJP is involved in e-war. But the BJP seems to be ahead of the Congress in this electronic war. The BJP has launched its Vasundhara App and to counter this Congress is trying to launch two Apps.
Vasundhara Raje has started a war of words using the social media and is blaming the Congress for its unfruitful governance. The BJP is ahead on social media in comparison to the Congress.
“It’s a misnomer that the Congress is behind BJP in the social media. We are training the party’s cadre for using social media. We have a team of 11 software engineers and they have prepared two mobile Apps one in Hindi and the other in English stating the achievements of the Congress government. We would do power point presentation through 1600 mobiles using the party’s cadre. We are setting up an IT cell in each district Congress office and they would be trained in the social media” said Chandrabhan, president of the state Congress. But the BJP has made an elaborate arrangements for training its workers using mobile App, Internet and 3D image.
“Even if the Congress spends Rs 100 crore, it would not be able to match our social media which is very strong. There are more than 20,000 party cadres who are equipped with all kinds of gadgets and what is heartening is that these cadres spend their own money in buying gadgets which shows their commitment to the party,” said Sachin Khare, chief of the BJP communication cell.
In the state, the total number of persons connected to Facebook as users are 26 lakh and there are 1.50 crore Internet users. It is expected that after the disbursement of the Akash tablet, which will have facilities to add Internet to it, the number of Facebook users will rise within the next three-four months.
BJP president Vasundhara Raje is active on Facebook. One of her page, CM For Rajasthan, was liked by more than 60,000 persons and the two other Facebook pages are being enriched in content. As compared to the Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Vasundhara’s Facebook pages are more popular in terms of numbers.
But Chief Minister Gehlot is not active on twitter and the last he used the twitter account was on October 2011. On twitter, he used the account only five times. The last tweet was homage to the ghazal singer Jagjit Singh on his death.
Among the leaders of both the parties, Union minister CP Joshi’s Facebook was liked by 2792 persons. He is also active on Google hangout. Another Union minister Sachin Pilot was liked by 29,845 and he tweets regularly.
Union minister for sports and defence production Jitendra Singh’s Facebook page was liked by 1521 and state Congress president Dr Chandrabhan’s Facebook page was liked by 3854. (PB)
Tiwari is being considered the leader of Brahmins demanding reservations on economic criterion. He launched his own yatra, but hardly with impact. The Gujjars have launched a “victory march” in support of their campaign for reservation. They want tribal status and reservations like the Meenas.
The yatra of Gujjars has started from Charbhuja temple under the leadership of former Congress MLA Atar Singh Bhadana and Gujjar leader of Mewar Deokinandan Kaka. It aims at putting pressure on political parties for implementing five per cent reservation for Special Backward Classes.
The absence of senior leaders on the inauguration of Sandesh Yatra of Congress at the PCC headquarters has led to speculations about “internal strife” in the party. While the yatra is set to pass through the Jat-dominated northern Rajasthan districts of Sriganganagar, Hanumangarh and Churu in its second phase, none of the prominent state leaders has addressed the public meetings during the march.
Even the AICC general secretary in charge of Rajasthan, Mukul Wasnik, has been missing so far in the yatra, which will continue till June-end.
However, the PCC has announced that top leaders including Congress president Sonia Gandhi, vice-president Rahul Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would address rallies during the weeks to come.
The Bahujan Samaj Party has gone a step ahead and taken lead in declaring the first list of candidates for the Assembly elections.
The party has announced a list of 29 candidates in advance, saying the early declaration would enable the candidates to spend time with the people of their constituencies. According to BSP state chief Bhagwan Singh, the party is focusing on Rajasthan to improve its tally of six seats in the 2008 elections. But all the six MLAs who were elected on BSP tickets had joined the Congress en masse.
By Prakash Bhandari from Mewar