It’s development versus corruption in Rajasthan

November 23rd, 2008 - 1:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Jaipur, Nov 23 (IANS) Anti-incumbency, the Gujjar issue, corruption and development are set to hog the campaign in the Dec 4 Rajasthan assembly elections.The state assembly has 200 seats, with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) now having 121 legislators and Congress 53.

It has always been a two-party contest in the state, but Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is pulling out all stops to make a dent in the votes of both the major parties. The BSP is fighting for all 200 seats and may prove a spoiler.

The BJP is wooing the voters by showcasing the development works by the Vasundhara Raje government since she assumed power Dec 8, 2003.

“We are campaigning on two counts, our government’s achievements and failure of the central government to check the price rise and terrorism,” said state BJP vice president Arun Chaturvedi.

“We are going to tell voters about the work our government has done. We have set a record of sorts in employment generation, the state’s economy has drastically improved and social infrastructure, including education, has been strengthened,” he said.

State party president Om Prakash Mathur said: “There is no anti-incumbency. We are heading for a landslide victory.”

The opposition Congress is bracing up to corner the BJP on “corruption and the deteriorating law and order situation in the state”.

“There has been no development. What are they (BJP) talking about? The voters this time are not going to be fooled”, said K.C. Chaudhary, a senior Congress leader of Rajasthan.

Former state Congress president B.D. Kalla said the law and order situation has completely slipped out of hands in the state. He said all section of society were feeling insecure ever since the BJP came to power.

“Under this government, the dalits, minorities and women are more scared,” Kalla said. “The mafia is into land grabbing, illicit liquor and even tourism; they all move about freely are freely”.

“Development has indeed taken place, but there has been development only of the land mafia,” Kalla asserted. The government is working against the interests of labourers, farmers and common people, the Congress leaders say.

The Gujjar problem will be a major election issue. The two agitations in 2007 and 2008 by Gujjars for reservation under tribal status that left 68 people dead have hurt the sentiments of the community, primarily into cattle rearing in the desert state.

Gujjars, who constitute 5 to 6 percent in Rajasthan’s population of over 56 million, are at present classified among other backward classes (OBC) in the state and their voting preference this time is not clear.

The community had voted the BJP in 2003 with the hope that the party would give it reservation as Scheduled Tribes.

Now, not all Gujjars are happy with the BJP government’s decision to offer them five per cent reservation under special category. The community seems divided.

A faction in the community led by Col. (retd) K.S. Bainsla, the self-styled Gujjar leader and convener of Gujjar Arakshan Sangarsh Samiti, has appealed to the community members to vote for the BJP. The other faction owing allegiance to the Akhil Bhartiya Gujjar Sangarsh Samiti has given a call to oust the BJP from power.

Similarly Jats, another dominating community in Rajasthan, are also undecided on which party to support.

The community plays a dominant role in at least 50 of the 200 constituencies in the state and has traditionally been voting for the Congress. But in the 2003 elections they went with the BJP, angry over the Congress not projecting a chief minister from the Jat community.

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