Ticket distribution tricky job for Congress, BJP

Ticket distribution tricky job for Congress, BJP

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during the party's Central Election Committee meeting for the forthcoming Assembly polls in Rajasthan at party headquarters in New Delhi on Sunday. PTI

As ticket distribution in poll-bound Rajasthan nears finishing, state leaders in both Congress and the BJP camps are at loggerheads just before the first list of the candidates is out.

Both the parties are finding ticket distribution a tricky job. While the Congress is dealing with "problem of plenty," the BJP on the other hand, is having a tough task finding replacements for incumbent MLAs. A strong anti-incumbency sentiment against many sitting MLAs and ministers is forcing the BJP to deliberate whether or not MLAs who are viewed weak in surveys be given tickets.

The ticket distribution conundrum has once again erupted tensions between BJP chief Amit Shah and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje.

According to sources in the BJP, the rift between Raje and Shah has deepened after the latter rejected around 60 names suggested by Raje for the elections. "Rajasthan has 200 Assembly seats, and the focus of Shah has been winnability of a candidate. But Raje has been lobbying for her loyalists and Shah has twice rejected her list. First, before Diwali, and once again after Diwali."

The tension between the two leaders was evident after the BJP lost one Assembly and two Lok Sabha seats in Rajasthan in the bypolls held in February 2018. The situation became worse when the state BJP chief was removed and a new one appointed, after two months of critical discussions between the state and the central leadership. Moreover in the recent poll campaigns, the BJP chief was least spotted with Raje except for flagging off her Gaurav Yatra. Since then both have been conducting separate rallies.

Similarly in the Congress camp, leaders continue their brainstorming in Delhi over candidate selection for the December 7 Assembly polls. According to sources in the Congress, there have been heated arguments between senior Congress leaders over the names of the candidates. Several sources said that when former chief minister Ashok Gehlot wanted a few loyalists to get tickets he was turned down by Sachin Pilot.

For the last two weeks, the Congress screening committee headed by Selja Kumari has been meeting in Delhi to discuss candidates for the 200 Assembly seats.

State Congress president Sachin Pilot told DH, "We are building up consensus over the names of the candidates. We will be declaring the list in a day or two after getting a nod from Rahul Gandhi."

Cong, BJP keep candidates guessing

The Congress and the BJP are yet to show their cards for Rajasthan.

The filing of nominations for Assembly polls in the state begins on Monday (November 12), but neither the Congress nor the BJP has come up with the first list of its candidates.

According to sources in both the parties, their respective high commands have agreed upon few names but are struggling to reach a consensus.

The nominations will continue until November 19 with November 22 being the last date for withdrawals.

On Sunday, senior leaders of both the parties were busy finalising the names.

The BJP leaders including Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, state BJP president Madanlal Saini, national general secretary (organisation) Chandrashekhar, state ministers Gulab Chand Kataria and Rajendra Rathore, and MLA Ashok Parnami reached Delhi on Saturday.

Meanwhile, in the Congress' camp talks were held in its war room on 15 Gurudwara Rakabganj Road.

State Congress president Sachin Pilot, leader of opposition Rameshwar Dudi, and others were present for the talks.

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

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