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BJP fields ‘unknown’ candidate in byelection

BJP candidate Himmat Singh Jhala (in turban).   | Photo Credit: de24 jhala;9182

The upcoming Assembly byelection in Udaipur district’s Vallabhnagar constituency gave an opportunity to the BJP to prove its mettle in the Mewar region, but it is finding it difficult to justify the candidature of businessman Himmat Singh Jhala. Very few voters recognise Mr. Jhala, though he claims to have undertaken philanthropic work during the pandemic.

‘No consensus’

Mired in internal bickering, the BJP fielded Mr. Jhala after the senior leaders failed to reach a consensus on bringing former MLA Randhir Singh Bhindar back to the party fold or giving ticket to a strong contender, Udai Lal Dangi. The unhappiness of party workers over the decision is reflected in the low-key election campaign, especially in the rural areas.

Considered a stronghold of Congress, Vallabhnagar has been represented in the State Assembly six times by freedom fighter and Rajput leader Gulab Singh Shaktawat, who was the Home Minister in the 1998-2003 Ashok Gehlot government. His Mr. Shktawat's son Gajendra Singh Shaktawat, who died of a liver-related ailment earlier this year, was elected an MLA twice from Vallabhnagar.

Leader of the Opposition Gulab Chand Kataria was strongly against reinducting Mr. Bhindar of the erstwhile royal family, who has since floated an outfit called Janata Sena. On the other hand, Mr. Dangi’s candidature was not acceptable to some other leaders.

The embarrassment of BJP leaders was visible at an election meeting in Loonda village over the weekend. Addressing the meeting, BJP State OBC Morcha president Om Prakash Bhadana called upon the party workers to forget their internal differences and make united efforts for Mr. Jhala’s victory.

Madan Lal Suthar, a shopkeeker in Vallabhnagar town, told The Hindu that the local BJP leaders had been unable to raise the issues of a complete absence of transport facility, erratic agricultural power supply and the Mavli-Bari Sadri railway line broad gauge conversion work being halted since long. “The voters are justified in thinking that their support to Congress would speed up development,” he said.

Ms. Kanwar, a former vice-president of BJP State Mahila Morcha, had filed her nomination as a Janata Sena candidate and later withdrawn it.

Mr. Kataria has maintained a distance from the election campaign in Vallabhnagar apparently because the Congress workers have been highlighting his recent derogatory remarks about Rajput warrior Maharana Pratap and a controversial statement on Lord Ram.

On the other hand, the Congress expects to ride on the sympathy wave by fielding Shaktawat’s widow Preeti Shaktawat as its candidate. Ganpat Lal, of Kedaria village, said Ms. Preeti’s strategy for seeking votes, such as banners and hoardings mentioning her late husband’s name, was aimed at projecting herself as his “natural successor”.

Vallabhnagar Sarpanch Durga Devi Gujjar, a supporter of Ms. Preeti, said the people were being apprised of the development works undertaken during the Congress regime.

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Printable version | Dec 3, 2021 6:08:10 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/bjp-fields-unknown-candidate-in-byelection/article37145846.ece

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