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INDIA Key players in Rajasthan

Main issues in the state include corruption and education opportunities

By Ajay Jha, Correspondent
April 13, 2014

Lok Sabha seats: 25

Date of polling: April 17 (20 seats) and April 24 (5 seats)

Key candidates

Jaswant Singh, independent, Barmer: Singh, a nine-term MP, is contesting his last election and first ever from his home constituency after being denied a nomination by the BJP.

Buta Singh, independent, Jalore: Buta Singh, a senior federal minister during Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi governments, won the Jalore seat five times — last being in 1998 as an independent. He lost the seat in 2004 as a Congress party nominee and in 2009 as an independent. He was brought back to the Congress fold in January only to be denied a nomination. This could be the 79-year-old veteran’s last election, unless he wins.

Sachin Pilot, Congress party, Ajmer: The young federal minister — son of the late Rajesh Pilot and Rama Pilot — took charge of the state unit in January. Was forced to shift out of his parent’s safe Dausa constituency after winning it in 2004 after Dausa became a reserved constituency. Won from Ajmer in 2009 and faces an uncertain future from the constituency.

Dushyant Singh, BJP, Jhalawar: Son of Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, contested his mother’s parliamentary seat for the first time in 2004 after Raje became the chief minister in 2003. Has since won it twice and may make a hat-trick of victories as his mother is back in power in the state.

C.P. Joshi, Congress party, Jaipur rural: Joshi lost the 2008 assembly seat by just one vote, which robbed him the opportunity of becoming the Rajasthan chief minister. He is a popular Brahmin face of the party in the state. He worked as a federal minister as the person in charge of various key constituencies but quit recently as minister to work for the party and is currently one of its national general secretaries.

Girija Vyas, Congress party, Chittorgarh: Vyas is one of the 17 women among 239 candidates in the fray for the first phase of polling in the state. Has worked as state unit president and chairperson of the National Commission for Women. She is an incumbent federal minister.

Colonel (retired) Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, BJP, Jaipur rural: The ace shooter and the first individual Indian Olympic silver medallist in 2004 after a gap of 104 years. Quit as an officer in the Indian Army to join politics. Has trained his gun on C.P. Joshi much to the discomfiture of the veteran Congress leader.

Mohammad Azharuddin, Congress party, Tonk-Sawai Madhopur: The former India cricketer, originally from Hyderabad, is an MP from Uttar Pradesh’s Moradabad seat. Fearing defeat, he requested the party a safe seat. Was offered a seat in West Bengal, which he declined. Finally sent to Rajasthan’s unfamiliar turf. His film star wife Sangeeta Bijlani is creating more interest amongst local voters than the former India captain famous for his silken smooth shots.

Jitendra Singh, Congress party, Alwar: The scion of erstwhile Alwar royalty, Singh who represented India in shooting, is the incumbent federal sports minister. Facing a tough time evading BJP’s bullets.

Jyoti Mirdha, Congress party, Nagaur: A medical doctor, Mirdha, 41, is the granddaughter of late Nathuram Mirdha, the tallest Jat leader from Rajasthan during his lifetime. Made a successful debut in 2009 and seeking a second term in the Lok Sabha.

Key issues

Corruption and inflation: Like people in the rest of the country, Rajasthan’s voters are agitated with these two big failures of the federal government and want to teach the Congress party a lesson.

Yearning for change: The desire for a change started sweeping the desert state during the December 2013 state assembly polls and has only gathered further momentum with voters eager to find out what BJP’s Narendra Modi as prime minister can do for them.

Better ties and connectivity with Pakistan: Locals want the weekly Thar Express to run daily, setting up of a Pakistan consulate in the state so that they do not have to go to Delhi for a visa and opening up of the road for trade, which they feel will give a big boost to the state’s economy.

Lifting of restrictions under the garb of DNP (desert national park) as it does not allow construction and modernisation in the desert areas.

Share in petroleum: Locals are apprehensive that the recent petroleum discoveries may bring lots of outsiders who can influence their lifestyle and culture. They want maximum opportunities for locals to take advantage of the petro boom.

Better education opportunities and skill enhancement: Given the low population density, there aren’t many colleges in desert areas. Young people, especially girls, cannot afford to either travel long distances for post-high school education or shift base to cities like Jaipur, Jodhpur or Udaipur, restricting their job opportunities.

Continuation of pro-people policies: The more the merrier. Rajasthan voters do not want the withdrawal of any of the policies started by the previous Congress party government in the state and the incumbent federal government.

Results 2009

Congress party: 20 (47.19 per cent votes)

Bharatiya Janata Party: 4 (36.57 per cent votes)

Independent: 1

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