Rajasthan bypolls: Two seats to see triangular contest

The bypolls are also crucial for Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee president and Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot. Pilot has exuded confidence that the party will win both the seats. (PTI File Photo)

As many as 259 polling booths have been set up in Mandawa and 266 booths in Khinvsar in Rajasthan, where bypolls will be held on Monday. The counting of votes will take place on October 24.

According to the election commission's office, 2,27,414 voters are eligible to exercise their franchise whereas in Khivsar, 2,50,155 people will cast their votes in Mandawa. Moreover, eight companies of Central security force have been deployed in each of the poll-bound constituencies.

The bypolls were necessitated after Khivsar (Nagaur) MLA Hanuman Beniwal and Mandava (Jhunjhunu) MLA (BJP) Narendra Kumar were elected to Lok Sabha in May 2019.

Among the twelve candidates (9 in Mandawa) and (3 in Khivsar) who are in the fray, there is a triangular contest among the ruling Congress, Opposition BJP and the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party. Both Mandawa and Khivsar in Rajasthan are Jat-dominated Assembly seats.

The Congress nominated Rita Chaudhary to contest the by-election to the Mandawa constituency against Bharatiya Janata Party's Sushila Seegda, a former Congress leader who joined the BJP after she was suspended from Congress. Seegda, 54, is the pradhan at Jhunjhunu panchayat samiti and has been Zila Parishad pradhan thrice. She is also the daughter-in-law of veteran Congress leader Brijlal Seegda.

Similarly, for the Khinvsar seat in Nagaur, the Congress has nominated Harendra Mirdha against Narayan Beniwal of the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP), the alliance partner of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state. The former cabinet minister Harendra Mirdha is also an All India Congress Committee secretary. Whereas Narayan Beniwal is the brother of Nagaur MP Hanuman Beniwal also the patron of RLP.

Interestingly, the Assembly bypolls will be a test for the Congress, which came to power in December 2018. Despite forming the government in Rajasthan, Congress lost all 25 Lok Sabha seats in the general elections in May 2019. However, in June, the party won a majority of seats in Panchayat Samiti and Zila Parishad bypolls held in 26 out of total 33 districts in the state.

The bypolls are also crucial for Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee president and Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot. Pilot has exuded confidence that the party will win both the seats. Similarly, in the BJP camp, the bypolls will be seen as the first assignment for the newly-appointed president, Satish Poonia.

Interestingly, since both the seats were Jat-dominated, Poonia, a Jat leader, was appointed by BJP.

Of the 200 Assembly seats in Rajasthan, the Congress has 106 MLAs, including the six who defected to the party from the BSP last month.

The BJP has 72 MLAs, CPIM, Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) and Bhartiya Tribal Party (BTP) have two each and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), also an ally of the Congress, has one MLA and 13 are independent MLAs.

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