Raj rebels spawn speculation: Will they play kingmakers on Dec 3?
Jaipur, Nov 19 (IANS) With around 45 rebels from the Congress and the BJP jumping into the fray, speculation is rife if they will be kingmakers in Rajasthan and will dent the prospective voters of the official candidates of the two leading parties.
Both the Congress and BJP leaders confirmed to IANS that Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and former CM Vasundhara Raje are aiming to restrict the Congress and BJP seats to 90 so that Independents can have their say and they can rule the roost in their respective party.
In December 2018, when Ashok Gehlot and state unit president Sachin Pilot were at loggerheads, 10 of the 13 Independents backed the Congress government "under Gehlot".
In fact, Gehlot has been banking on these loyalists in his 5-year tenure. They have always supported him even during Pilot's rebellion and Gehlot has also rewarded them by giving them key positions.
However, Pilot had objected to this practice asking ‘Why a candidate who fought elections against the Congress candidate be rewarded while honest party workers are ignored?’
Now, in the run up to the November 25 assembly polls, the focus is once again on the rebels as around 20 Congress and 25 BJP rebels are contesting the elections as Independents.
In successive assembly polls, the difference between the Congress and the BJP's vote share has been reducing as Independents, who are generally BJP and Congress rebels, are gaining importance.
Sunil Parihar, considered close to CM Gehlot, has announced he will contest as an Independent from Siwana. This is the same seat from where the Congress has fielded Manvendra Singh, former BJP defence minister Jaswant Singh's son.
Former Jodhpur mayor and a close friend of Gehlot, Rameshwar Dadhich, has already quit the Congress after being denied a ticket from Sursagar and joined the BJP. Joharilal Meena, the current Congress MLA from Rajgarh-Laxmangarh, is contesting as a rebel after being denied a ticket.
It is not only the Congress, the BJP is also facing the same challenge as Independent candidates are posing a threat to its official candidates.
According to officials, Sheo seat of Barmer is the most talked about as one Congress and two BJP rebel candidates are in the fray here. BJP rebels Jalam Singh Ravlot and Ravindra Singh Bhati are contesting the elections, while former Congress district president Fatah Khan is also in the fray as a rebel. The BJP made district party president Swaroop Singh Khara its candidate for the Shiv seat.
The Congress has given the ticket to 84-year-old Amin Khan for the 10th time. The former BJP MLA here has joined the RLP and is contesting the elections. The equations have become distorted due to the fielding of 5 strong candidates for this seat.
In Chittorgarh the BJP has denied the ticket to its two time MLA Chandrabhan Singh Akya who is now in the fray as a rebel.
Shiv, Chittorgarh and Barmer are the most talked about seats due to the rebels.
The situation is difficult for the BJP in Chittorgarh where it might lose due to the rebellion of Akya.
Despite being called to Delhi for discussions Aakya is firm on his stand. Vidhyadhar Nagar MLA Narpat Singh Rajvi who is the son-in-law of former CM Bhairon Singh Shekhawat has been fielded from here by the BJP.
There is a fight over the Barmer seat as well. The BJP has suffered a blow due to the rebellion of Priyanka Chaudhary in Barmer. The party has been continuously losing this seat. The RLP has also supported Chaudhary after which the entire political scene has changed.
There is a tough contest for the Deedwana seat also after Vasundhara Raje loyalist Yunus Khan was denied the ticket from here. He has announced he will contest as an Independent which will dent the BJP’s vote bank.
Also in Shahpura, former Speaker and Raje loyalist Kailash Meghwal is contesting as an Independent.
There are more rebels in the field from the BJP than from the Congress.
Political analyst Manish Godha confirmed to IANS that rebels will play a key role on December 3 when the results will be announced.
As per Godha's calculations, these Independents will matter in around 10 to 15 seats in both the parties.
Says Godha: "It is seen that rebels are being supported by prominent leaders of both the parties. It seems these leaders are supporting them for their own goals. When the headcount will start after the election, these rebels associated with prominent leaders will matter to them as happened in December 2018 during government formation and the CM will be chosen accordingly."