JHalRaPaTaN liKEs maHaRaNi

The Sunday Guardian - - Front Page -

In this round of Assem­bly elec­tions, Ra­jasthan was con­sid­ered to be the weak­est for the Bharatiya Janata Party com­pared to the other two party ruled states, Mad­hya Pradesh and Ch­hat­tis­garh. Even the cen­tral BJP lead­er­ship had felt that they might lose Ra­jasthan “just be­cause of un­pop­u­lar and ar­ro­gant Chief Min­is­ter Va­sund­hara Raje”. Sur­pris­ingly, a few days be­fore the elec­tions in Ra­jasthan, there were re­ports that the BJP was mak­ing a fast re­cov­ery, thanks to Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s last minute fire-fight­ing, tear­ing into the “Congress fam­ily”. Con­fused, the Congress claimed that “these are BJP spon­sored ru­mours”. The state has voted out a gov­ern­ment ev­ery five years since 1998. “The prob­lem with the Congress was that there was no clear leader. The Congress was like a mar­riage party with­out a groom. The prob­lem with the BJP was the leader (Va­sund­hara).” This could be heard ev­ery­where in Ra­jasthan. The Congress said, “There was only one elec­tion is­sue: Va­sund­hara Raje. Ev­ery­one hates this Maharani.” In her Jhalrapatan con­stituency, the Congress put out posters: “Swab­hi­maani ki ladai ab­hi­maani se.” Recog­nis­ing the mas­sive an­tiCM sen­ti­ment, the BJP top heads sought votes merely on the “BJP Phir Se” slo­gan. The BJP chief Amit Shah also felt the heat of anti-Raje sen­ti­ments at many places. On Wed­nes­day, he cut short his in­ter­ac­tion with the me­dia in Jaipur abruptly, say­ing, “You peo­ple are ask­ing man­u­fac­tured ques­tions.” Pro­voked by a query on the BJP claim­ing a vic­tory on 180 seats, Shah stood up and left.

How­ever, Va­sund­hara Raje’s Assem­bly seg­ment Jhalrapatan thinks dif­fer­ently of the Maharani. Jhalrapatan lo­cals told that her Congress ri­val Man­ven­dra Singh, son of the late BJP Union Min­is­ter Jaswant Singh, was in the wrong place and Raje, the Maharani of Dholpur, was their favourite. “No one can de­feat Maharani-sa here. She has rep­re­sented us for 30 years, while Man­ven­dra is an out­sider from Barmer. Even if So­nia Gandhi comes here, she can­not de­feat Ma­ha­ranisa.” Raje came to Jhalrapatan in 1989. She be­longs to the Gwalior roy­alty and was mar­ried into the Dholpur roy­alty. In Jhalrapatan’s nar­row streets, saf­fron flags dom­i­nated the land­scape, with peo­ple more in­ter­ested in Raje’s re­cent move to re­store the lo­cal Sun Tem­ple, which is con­sid­ered se­cond only to Odisha’s Konark Sun Tem­ple in grandeur.

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