Cong., BJP facing internal strife in candidates’ selection in Rajasthan

By-elections for two Assembly seats slated for October 30

Internal rivalries, influence of local leaders and political interference by the dominant communities are some of the factors facing both the ruling Congress and the Opposition BJP during the exercise to select candidates for the upcoming by-elections to two Assembly seats in Rajasthan.

The voting for bypolls in Udaipur district’s Vallabhnagar and Pratapgarh district’s Dhariawad constituency will be held on October 30. Election was necessitated after the death of Congress MLA from Vallabhnagar Gajendra Singh Shaktawat on January 20 and BJP legislator from Dhariyawad Gautam Lal Meena on May 19. Both of them died of COVID-19 infection.

Two-time MLA Mr. Shaktawat was a loyalist of former Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot and had camped at an undisclosed location in Haryana along with the rebel Congress legislators during the political crisis last year. At least two of his family members have staked their claim to get the party ticket.

The Congress may nominate Mr. Shaktawat’s wife Preeti in an attempt to get sympathy votes at the seat, which has traditionally been the party’s stronghold. However, Mr. Shaktawat’s brother Devendra Shaktawat, who is also a strong claimant, may oppose her candidature and try to mobilise the Congress workers in his own support.

Tough choice

The BJP faces a tough choice in Vallabhnagar, as the proposed move to bring the popular leader and former MLA Randhir Singh Bhindar back to the party fold is being opposed by an influential section. After his victory on the BJP ticket in 2003, Mr. Bhindar had left the party and won the 2013 Assembly election as an independent candidate.

Leader of Opposition Gulab Chand Kataria, considered the BJP’s seniormost leader in the Mewar region, is reportedly against any move to re-induct Mr. Bhindar into the party.

Mr. Bhindar had formed an outfit, Janata Sena, while contesting the two previous polls and ensured the defeat of BJP candidates, who had finished third in the contest both the times.

In the Dhariawad constituency, the BJP may field either the late Mr. Meena’s son Kanhaiya Lal or an influential local leader, Khet Singh Meena, as its candidate.

The Congress is considering the names of Zila Pramukh Indira Meena, wife of Pratapgarh MLA Ramlal Meena, and Nagraj Meena, who has contested the Assembly election five times in the past.

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