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Political drama unfolds as BJP rebel exits ring

An election meeting of the RLD in support of its candidate Badri Lal Jat in Sahara constituency.  

The withdrawal of candidature by Bharatiya Janata Party’s rebel leader Ladulal Pitliya for the Assembly by-election in Sahara has turned into an unsavoury episode and led to tension between the two major political parties in the fray ahead of polling scheduled for April 17. Mr. Pitliya is at present quarantined at home amid the political drama.

Mr. Pitliya, who had left the BJP in 2018 and fought as an Independent in the Assembly polls, filed his nomination papers this time as well. He had returned to the BJP fold in February this year, but the ticket for the bypoll was given to septuagenarian leader Ratanlal Jat, who was earlier elected an MLA twice from Sahara.

The rebel leader, who owns a readymade garments’ business in Bengaluru, took back his nomination a day before the last date for withdrawal. A letter and some audio messages doing rounds on social media suggested that he was forced to exit the electoral fight through pressure exerted by some politicians in BJP-ruled Karnataka.

With the Congress accusing the BJP of using wrong tactics in the by-election, a notice for 14-day home quarantine was slapped on Mr. Pitliya last week on the ground of not presenting a negative RT-PCR report on COVID-19 infection despite having arrived in Rajasthan from another State. BJP State president Satish Poonia termed it a “politically motivated” action to stop Mr. Pitliya from joining the party's election campaign.

Though Mr. Pitliya has tested negative in his latest diagnosis, he has neither ventured out of his home nor issued any statement in support of the BJP. He has a strong hold in the Jain community and his popularity increased after his philanthropic works during the COVID-19 lockdown in Bhilwara district last year.

Absence of migrants

District BJP Minority Morcha president Hamid M. Sheikh told The Hindu that the party’s organisational structure in the constituency was quite strong and the impact of the episode involving Mr. Pitliya would be minimal. “Our bigger worry is the absence of about 40,000 migrant workers living in other States. The polling percentage will be affected if they don’t come here by the voting day,” he said.

Congress candidate Gayatri Devi, wife of Sahara MLA Kailsah Trivedi who died in October 2020 after being infected by COVID-19, expects to get sympathy votes from the party’s supporters. However, her candidature was initially opposed by Mr. Trivedi’s brother Rajendra Trivedi, who was a strong claimant for the ticket.

Though Ms. Devi had earlier fought the panchayat polls in Bhilwara district, Sahara Sarpanch Sangh president Ratni Devi Tiwari submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot with the demand for changing the party candidate. AICC general secretary Ajay Maken thereafter visited the constituency to launch a damage control exercise.

RLD eyes Jat votes

The Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) has fielded Badri Lal Jat as its candidate in an attempt to get the support of Jat community, which comprises the majority in Sahara’s population. Babulal Mali, a resident of the town, said the RLP, by fielding Mr. Jat, had tried to make a dent into the BJP’s vote bank, as he is the brother of BJP leader Roop Lal Jat, who was the party's candidate in the 2018 Assembly election.

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Printable version | May 16, 2021 3:18:21 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/political-drama-unfolds-as-bjp-rebel-exits-ring/article34306665.ece

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