BJP's lone Muslim candidate to fight Pilot in Tonk

BJP's lone Muslim candidate to fight Pilot in Tonk

Rajasthan Polls 2018

In a surprise move, the Bhartiya Janta Party fielded its state minister and the lone Muslim candidate Yunus Khan, against Pradesh Congress Committee president Sachin Pilot from Tonk for the December 7 Assembly polls. PTI file photo

In a surprise move, the Bhartiya Janta Party has decided to field state minister and its lone Muslim candidate Yunus Khan against Pradesh Congress Committee president Sachin Pilot from Tonk in the December 7 Assembly polls.

The candidature of Khan, who was elected from Deedwana in the 2013 poll was declared in the fifth list of BJP candidates released on Monday. His candidature was declared in the eleventh hour after Ajit Singh Mehta, who was named in the first list issued on November 11 to contest from Tonk was dropped. BJP's move comes days after Congress fielded Pilot in Tonk against Mehta in the polls. "Since the majority of the voters are from the Muslim community, the BJP did some brainstorming and replaced Ajit Singh with Yunus Khan", a senior leader told DH. 

54-year-old Khan, a sitting MLA from Deedwana constituency of Nagaur district is considered to be a close aide of chief minister Vasundhara Raje. His supporters had protested at the BJP office when he did not get a ticket from Deedwana in the initial list. After filing his nomination papers on Monday, Public Work Department Minister in the Vasundhara Raje government, Yunus Khan told DH, "I have a firm belief in my party. I also believe in people of Tonk. I am sure they will vote for me". 

Tonk constituency is dominated by minority and Gurjar voters. Interestingly, 41-year-old Rajasthan Congress chief Sachin Pilot enjoys the backing of the Gurjar community, while Yunus will have to rely on his community after leaving his home seat of Deedwana. 

Pilot, who will be contesting assembly elections for the first time told DH, "I have trust in my supporters. After I decided to contest polls, there were many favourable options but the party had decided to project me from Tonk". Reacting on Yunus Khan's last-minute candidature, Pilot added, "It's their party matter. I am ok with everyone".  

Pilot, one of the Congress' CM candidate also filed his nomination papers from Tonk on Monday. A day before filing his papers he took blessings at the Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu. 

Vote share

The Tonk constituency has about 2.22 lakh voters, including around 43,000 Muslims and 35,000 people belonging to the Scheduled Castes, apart from a significant number of Gurjar, Jat and Meena voters, according to estimates by candidates.

As many as nine candidates had contested from Tonk in the 2013 assembly elections where Mehta defeated his nearest rival Saud Saidi, a Congress rebel who had contested as an independent. The BJP leader had secured 46.96 per cent votes.

Rajasthan will go to polls on December 7 and counting will be held on December 11.