Congress’s First List for Rajasthan Assembly Polls: A Fine Balance

With 2 days left for nominations to be filed & 48 seats to be announced, Congress needs to pacify rebellion & fast.

Published16 Nov 2018, 09:09 PM IST
3 min read

At the stroke of midnight, on 16 November, the Congress party announced its first list of its candidates for the upcoming assembly elections in Rajasthan. Putting an end to speculation, it finally announced the 152 candidates for the 200 member assembly.

The list gives an impression that the Congress party has adopted the BJP’s slogan ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’. It has succeeded in maintaining the balance between youthful leadership and the experienced; the fine equation of caste is also balanced. The party has ensured that while fielding new candidates, the old loyal dynasties are also accommodated, and parachute candidates who were vehemently opposed by Rahul Gandhi, too have managed to find safe landing spots.

The balance was achieved after much urmoil, and as expected, it has generated few local tremors of rebellion, but has overall, made the election interesting.

Let’s take a look at the takeaways from the list.

Old Guard Holds Fort

Ever since the Congress started its poll campaign in the state, a lot of buzz has been doing the rounds that new candidates will be fielded, those who have rallied over the last five years on ground will be given a fair share in the party’s candidature for assembly elections.

However, the old guard is not one to remain silent, and ever since the final rounds of selection drew closer, they started to use their experience in stalling the process and making the most of the subsequent confusion.

Reports of infighting ruled the first three days of nomination, and finally when the lists were announced, close to 73 out of 152 candidates were ones who had contested the 2013 elections.

Sachin Pilot Flies High

Credit should be given to the state Congress Chief Sachin Pilot who ensured that despite pressure tactics from the old guard, he was able to manage 65 seats for new faces, and also manage the caste equation.

Pilot walked the talk for his national president Rahul Gandhi, making sure that those who had lost two elections don’t manage to get a candidature for the third time around. To the surprise of many, two former chiefs of the party Dr Chandrabhan and BD Kalla, along with 24 others, could not make it to the list.

But Pilot couldn’t do the same when it came to ‘parachute candidates’. As many as six such candidates were given tickets by the party.

Notably, Harish Meena, the BJP MP from Dausa, who had joined the party a couple of days ago, got a ticket from Deoli-Uniyara, and this was also the case with BJP turncoat, MLA Habibur Rahman.

No Confidence in Youth Leadership

As many as nine candidates who had contested the Madhya Pradesh elections and are sitting MP’s, have been fielded. Former Union Minister Dr C P Joshi, who was aiming to contest the 2019 parliamentary elections from Bhilwara, has been fielded from Nathdwara. Joshi will be returning to his old seat, that which he had held four times, after a decade. Similar is the case with former Rajya Sabha MP Narendra Budaniya, Former Union Minister Girija Vyas, Lalchand Kataria, Raghuveer Meena, Khiladilal Bairwa, Sitting MP Raghu Sharma and Harish meena.

This shows that despite anti-incumbency, there is no overt confidence in the young guard. The move has also surprised many candidates, who were not in the fray just about 48 hours ago.

Congress Needs to Keep its Flock Together

From here onwards, the Congress needs to put its house in order, and fast. In less than five minutes of the tickets being declared, the supporters of those who lost their tickets protested at the AICC headquarters.

Reports of rebellion are coming in from Bassi near Jaipur; the former mayor of Jaipur, Jyoti Khandelwal who was eyeing the Kishanpole seat, has resigned from all party positions and has sought candidature from any seat in the state.

In Bikaner, supporters of senior leader BD Kalla have been asking him to contest as an independent. There is opposition towards Prashant Bairwa how is contesting from Niwai.

With three days left for the nominations to be filed and 48 seats left to be announced, the Congress need to act fast on pacifying the rebellion, and ensuring that it keeps the flock together.

(The writer is founder of @journalism_talk. He tweets @avinashkalla. This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)

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