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27 sitting BJP MLAs renominated in Rajasthan

By Neena Vyas

NEW DELHI NOV. 5. The BJP today officially declared its first list of 93 candidates for the Assembly elections in Rajasthan. To keep dissension under control, 27 of the party's 33 sitting MLAs have been given the ticket — most of the rest are likely to be accommodated in the second and third lists.

Confident of getting a clear majority with development as the main plank of her campaign, Vasundhara Raje, the party's chief ministerial candidate, will seek her electoral fortune from Jhalrapatan, a segment of Jhalawar, the parliamentary constituency she represents, while the influential party leader who has been a former Deputy Chief Minister and former State party president, Harishankar Bhabhra, will contest from Ratan Garh.

Ms. Raje indicated that while "as of now'' the party had not finalised any alliances, if the Central leadership so desired "a few seats'' could be left for potential allies. She refused to say whether or not the BJP would leave a few seats for the Indian National Lok Dal, the ruling party in Haryana, which claims to wield some influence in the State, especially over its `Jats'.

Only one sitting MLA and a former MLA were allowed to shift from their old constituencies, an issue which seems to have become a cause for much heartburn as several more had conveyed their wish to be moved to newer and greener pastures. The two exceptions in this list of 93 were the Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly, Gulab Singh Kataria, who has been allowed to move to Udaipur, and another major leader, Ganshyam Tiwari, who will contest from Sanganer. Party leaders have said that the former MLA, Narpat Singh Rajvi, son-in-law of the party's grand old man from the State and now Vice-President, Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, wanted to move from Chittorgarh, but in the end had to remain content with his old constituency.

Supporters of a former MLA from Suratgarh, Amar Chand Midha, organised a protest demonstration at the party office immediately after the list was released. Slogans against the party and its leaders were raised.

The general secretary in-charge of elections, Pramod Mahajan, who released the list here pointed out that the first list was more or less completed last evening and the remaining candidates would be declared on November 7 or 8 when the central election committee meets again. Senior State party leaders, including Ms. Raje, Mr. Kataria and Mr. Ramdas Aggarwal, participated in the meeting. The list of 93 has 11 women candidates — some of them relatives of party leaders — while there are 18 Scheduled Caste and 14 Scheduled Tribe candidates.

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