The Assembly elections in Rajasthan is turning into a battle of heavyweights. The BJP has pitted state minister Yunus Khan to take on Sachin Pilot in Muslim-dominated Tonk, in response to Congress fielding Manvendra Singh against Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje in Jhalrapatan. Yunus Khan's name was announced in the BJP's fifth list of candidates released today. Khan, who is the Minister of Public Works and Transport Department in Vasundhara Raje cabinet, was shifted from his traditional Nagaur to Tonk against Pilot. Khan gives the BJP a strategic advantage over Congress' Pilot as Tonk has 47 per cent Muslim population.
This comes after the Congress party's big gamble to field Manvendra Singh, the son of former Union Minister and BJP veteran Jaswant Singh, against Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje from Jhalrapatan constituency for the December 7 Assembly elections. Although Jhalrapatan is the traditional stronghold of Raje, the BJP rebel is expected to give a tough fight to the chief minister, who is facing massive anti-incumbency in the state.
Soon after the announcement, Manvendra Singh has dropped a hint that he was not that much keen to contest the Rajasthan Elections from Jhalrapatan.
"My interest was not to contest the assembly elections but the party gave me responsibility. I am not a Chief Ministerial candidate. My relationship with Vasundhara Raje has been good. Now I will go to Jhalarapatan and open a front against Vasundhara Raje," Singh told News Nation in an exclusive interview.
Miffed Raje reacted strongly and said this was "not a battle of individuals” but a “battle of the family of Jhalawar". "Congress could not find anyone in Jhalawar, they send Manvendra Singh here," she added.
Earlier last month, Manvendra had joined the Congress in presence of party president Rahul Gandhi. Upon joining the Congress, the MLA from the Sheo constituency in Barmer, had said that going with the lotus – BJP’s election symbol, was a “big mistake”.
The elections for the 200-member Rajasthan Assembly are scheduled to held on December 7 in a single phase. The counting of votes will take place four days later on December 11 and results will also be announced the same day.