As countdown begins for Thursday, the date when the remaining five seats of the desert state go to the polls, the Congress is fighting to retain its citadel in a keen contest between a royal family scion and a “Mahant” of a Haryana-based mutt.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s confidant and sitting MP Bhanwar Jitendra Singh is evoking “Alwar’s pride and prestige” that, he says, rests on the fact that he is “son” or “brother” of people being a localite and on large-scale development he has done, having held different portfolios in the UPA government as a junior minister of home and defence and independent charge of sports ministry.
In his public gatherings, he asks people to compare work done in the last five years in his constituency with that of any other in the country. He lists some of the mega projects brought by him, including a medical college-cum-hospital, flyovers, auditorium, low-cost airport, school for girls, new sewerage system, extending Delhi metro till this place and sanctions for opening many centres of paramilitary forces.
The BJP is avoiding home issues to hinge their campaign on prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, projecting him the only answer to the problems plaguing the country – corruption, lack of leadership or to economic slump.
BJP candidate Mahant Chandnath, who had lost the 2004 elections to Congress’ Karan Singh Yadav by merely 8,000 votes, accuses Jitendra Singh of being absent from the segment. The sitting MP, however, counters it by arguing that he was handling crucial ministries, which forced him to tour troubled parts of the country.
Wanting to shield the poll debate from external influences of anti-incumbency of UPA government, Singh has been attacking Chandnath, believed to be close to yoga guru Ramdev, on his personal integrity. The Congress’ young turk told Deccan Herald that Chandnath was facing criminal charges. Questioning Mahant’s motive to jump into political fray, Singh asked why a Sadhu Baba is running after power and money when he had renounced the world.
Mahant was recently in the news for all the wrong reasons as a video clip showed him engaged in an embarrassing conversation with Ramdev. The Congress has lapped up the opportunity to throw muck at the BJP’s religious candidate. Mahant heads Baba Mastnath Mutt in Rohtak, Haryana.
Even within the BJP, there was resentment over Chandnath’s candidature as was an outsider but Chief Minister Vasundhra Raje has thrown her weight behind him. On the other hand, Singh is relying on the support of backward Meo Muslims, who were originally Hindus but converted to Islam during Mughal invasion and since then, have branched out to Mewat in Haryana and adjoining districts of Alwar and Bharatpur.
DH News Service