BJP and Congress close competition in Rajasthan by election

Locked in tight byelection contests at two seats in the tribal-dominated Mewar region in southern Rajasthan, the ruling Congress and Opposition BJP candidates are both promising voters infrastructure development, electricity for agriculture, better water supply and employment.

The electorate in Vallabhnagar and Dhariawad constituencies, face almost identical issues of lack of amenities, jobs, transport, education and medical facilities. The people in Dhariawad also complain of defective implementation of the Tribal Sub-Plan (TSP) provisions.

In addition to the two principal political parties, the candidates of Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP), Janata Sena, Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) as well as several Independents are also in the fray. The byelections, scheduled for October 30, were necessitated after the death of Vallabhnagar MLA Gajendra Singh Shaktawat and Dhariawad MLA Gautam Lal Meena earlier this year.

The contestants began door-to-door campaigns on Thursday as the official campaigns and rallies ended. Workers from both the major national parties ensured huge turnouts at public meetings and rallies during the visits of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Pradesh Congress president Govind Singh Dotasra, BJP national general secretary Arun Singh and BJP State president Satish Poonia.

Mr. Gehlot, who visited the region twice during the campaign, surprised everyone by visiting the home of the deceased BJP MLA Gautam Lal Meena in Dhariawad to condole his death before addressing a rally. He highlighted the work done by his government and affirmed that the Congress party was contesting the bypolls on the basis of its performance.

BJP rebel Udai Lal Dangi has been fielded as the RLP candidate in Vallabhnagar after he was denied a ticket by his parent party. The BTP’s official candidate Ganesh Meena is likely to bear the brunt of division in the tribal votes in Dhariawad because of a tribal youth, Thawarchand Damor, who is contesting as an independent.

The Dhariawad constituency, reserved for Scheduled Tribes, witnessed an intense political debate over reservation, as the non-tribal population, comprising barely 20% of the population, enjoys 50% quota in government jobs in the TSP areas. The voters feel that successive governments have ignored the provisions of Fifth Schedule of the Constitution in this regard.

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