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Lok Sabha Election 2019: ‘Rajputs’ vs ‘jats’ contest on cards in Barmer

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Jaipur, Apr 20: Manvendra Singh, son of Rajput leader Jaswant Singh will take on Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)'s Kailash Chaudhary, a Jat community leader in the Thar's Barmer constituency tuning it a tussle between major castes.

File photo of Manvendra Singh

Barmer, one of the largest parliamentary constituency in the country and is dominated by Jats and Rajputs who play a decisive role in elections. 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.

Rajputs have been considered the traditional vote bank of BJP while Jats that of Congress. However, the Rajput community is upset with the BJP over a host of issues. Congress would also get back its traditional vote bank of Muslims that was dented by Jaswant Singh. He said that in 2004, Manvendra could win this seat with minority communities' support.

Manvendra Singh, 54, was elected to the Lok Sabha on a BJP ticket in 2004. He became the first Rajput leader to win the seat for the BJP in 2004. It was considered a big win because even heavyweight candidates like Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, and later Lokendra Singh Kalvi could not taste success. He however, lost to Harish Chaudhary of the Congress in 2009. The Rajput leader had quit the saffron party in September 2018 miffed over his father Jaswant Singh being denied a BJP ticket in the 2014 elections.

Congress to pay Manvendra for taking on Vadundhara; BJP to do the same with Yunus

Interestingly, prior to the 2014 elections, the BJP had never banked on a Jat candidate. The Congress on the other hand has banked on Jat candidates seven times, while fielding Rajput candidates only on two occasions. It has also banked on Jain candidates five times.

However, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has turned the electoral battle into a triangular contest by picking former IPS officer Pankaj Chaudhary, who has served as Jaisalmer SP, as its candidate in the constituency which covers entire Barmer district and half of Jaisalmer district, forming a part of the Thar desert on the Indo-Pak border.

The BJP is seeking votes in the name of Prime Minister Narendra Modi while the Congress is trying to set a notion that the country's Constitution and democracy are in danger under Modi. The BSP candidate is targeting the youth of the state.

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.

Rajasthan will vote in Lok Sabha elections in two phases on April 29 and May 6. While 13 seats will go to polls in phase four on April 29, the rest 12 will vote in phase five on May 6. The Lok Sabha polls will be completed in seven phases in the country, beginning 11 April and ending on May 19. The vote counting is slated for May 23.

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