Manvendra Singh, Congress candidate from Barmer, has said people are still angry with the BJP for denying ticket to his father and former veteran leader Jaswant Singh in the 2014 general elections and they will teach the saffron party a lesson by making him win this time from this Thar desert Lok Sabha constituency.
He said there is no “Modi wave” here and he is confident about his victory.
Geographically, Barmer is the largest parliamentary constituency in the county and is dominated by Jats and Rajputs who play a decisive role in elections here. While Scheduled Castes and minority communities are considered to be largely supportive of Congress here, there are around 5.5 lakh Jats and 2.5 lakh Rajput voters.
Manvendra, who was an MP from Barmer between 2004 and 2009 and later a legislator from Sheo, left the BJP in September 2018 and joined the Congress ahead of Assembly elections in Rajasthan, citing differences with the then chief minister Vasundhara Raje of the saffron party.
In 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Manvendra’s father Jaswant Singh fought as an Independent candidate from Barmer after he was denied a BJP ticket. The BJP had fielded Congress defector Sona Ram Choudhary against him, who won with a margin of around 87,000 votes. Congress candidate Harish Choudhary had come third.
BJP has denied ticket to its sitting MP and has pitted former MLA Kailash Choudhary, who belongs to Jat community, against Manvendra Singh, who is a Rajput. Kailash Choudhary is contesting the Lok Sabha election for the first time.
“Last time also, there was anger, but this time the anger is more apparent and anger was also showed during assembly elections where except one seat, out of nine seats, Congress won all of them,” Singh told PTI in an interview.
Asked whether he expects people of Barmer to teach the BJP a lesson and make him win, Singh said, “I am hopefully for it. I am very hopeful.”
The Congress party emerged victorious in the assembly elections in the state late last year and has formed a government there, but Singh could not win from Jhalrapatan assembly seat where he was pitted against Raje.
He said the BJP, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the party president Amit Shah, is no longer the party which it was under leaders like Atal Bihar Vajpayee and L K Advani.
He said water scarcity is a major issue in Barmer, besides unemployment, for the Lok Sabha election.
“My first election theme is water because Barmer is a desert area. Water scarcity is always there? New techniques have to be implemented from the government’s side and I am also from the village side. There are some water schemes which are under process of being completed.
“Work is going on to address this issue. Hopefully, in the next five years, this (state) government will implement it,” the Congress leader said.
He also said the new Congress government in Rajasthan has generated enough goodwill among the people to repeat the assembly election performance in the Lok Sabha polls as well.
“The goodwill is certainly there because some of the announcements (made by the Congress) have already been implemented, including farm loan waiver, and more importantly, the old-age pension has been enhanced.
“Also, educated youths have already started getting stipends,” he said, calling these three factors as key ones impacting a common man, especially in villages.