Congress, BJP jostle for seats in Rajasthan (Poll Curtainraiser - Rajasthan)

May 6th, 2009 - 2:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Jaipur, May 6 (IANS) The Congress targeted the poor performance of the Vasundhara Raje-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which in turn lashed out at its present Ashok Gehlot regime in the high powered game for the 25 Lok Sabha seats in Rajasthan that goes to the polls Thursday.
Over 37 million voters, including 17 million women, would choose their nominees in the lower house of parliament amongst 346 candidates, including Congress’ Sachin Pilot and Girija Vyas and the BJP’s Manvendra Singh and K.S. Bainsla.

To make it easier for the voters to exercise their franchise in the sprawling desert state, the Election Commission has set up over 42,700 polling booths, including six mobile booths in the border district of Jaisalmer.

The BJP is trying desperately to hold on to its 21 seats, while the Congress seems confident of increasing its tally from the four in 2004.

Independents, rebels in both parties as well as the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Left have made the going tough in at least eight of the constituencies in the state that has traditionally seen a Congress-BJP electoral contest.

“Our strategy in this election has been to showcase the failures of the Gehlot government in the state and to tell the people about the failures of the UPA government in controlling terrorism and price rise,” BJP spokesperson Arun Chaturvedi told IANS.

In a tit for tat, the Congress has been targeting the previous Vasundhara Raje led BJP government, which lost to the Congress in the December assembly elections, for corruption.

Both the parties have pulled out all the stops to woo the voters.

The BJP sent its prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, television actress Smriti Irani and Bollywood star Hema Malini to the state.

The Congress also deployed its star campaigners, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, party president Sonia Gandhi and her son, general secretary Rahul Gandhi to canvass for votes. The campaign was spearheaded by Chief Minister Gehlot, who addressed over 125 meetings in different parts of the state.

With the Congress and BJP targeting each other’s governments in the state, it sometimes appeared an assembly election rather than a parliamentary poll.

Counting day May 16 should show whether the election result will reflect what happened in the assembly election.

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