Calling Congress’ Manvendra Singh a ‘turncoat’, BJP’s Jhalawar MP and Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje’s son Dushyant Singh on Sunday said that the Congress candidate from Jhalrapatan has been “parachuted” to the constituency and the electorate will send him back to where he belongs.
Dushyant Singh who has been spearheading his mother’s campaign in Jhalawar, Rajasthan said in an interview with PTI, Raje has worked really hard in the constituency and the development work done by her has been “phenomenal”. Speaking about the transformational changes the district of Jhalawar and Baran have experienced in the last 30 years he furthered that, “For her (Raje), the electorate is her family and the family is actually campaigning for her, it is not Mrs Raje.”
He went on to criticise Manvendra Singh by adding that “He has been parachuted by the Congress president (Rahul Gandhi). When the Congress president was here a few months back, he had said on stage, in Jhalawar especially, that he will not field any parachute candidates in Rajasthan.
“But he has put a paratrooper here, our family, the electorate, is ensuring that we send him back to where he belongs,” the 45-year-old leader said.
Manvendra Singh, son of former BJP leader Jaswant Singh, was pitted against Raje just weeks after crossing over from the BJP to the Congress.
Congress’ decision to field Singh against Raje irked the Chief Minister who while addressing the public after filing her nomination papers in Jhalawar district had said, “The Congress could not find any candidate and he (Manvendra Singh) was to be given ticket from somewhere and therefore, he was sent here (Jhalrapatan).”
Miffed with the Congress’ strategy she had said, “But they should know that it is not a fight of one person, this is a contest fought by Jhalawar and Rajasthan, which is a family.”
Congress President Rahul Gandhi during his speech in poll-bound Rajasthan, in August, had promised that the party will not allow any ‘parachute candidates’ to contest the elections. But contrary to his claim, the first list of Congress’ candidates for the Rajasthan assembly elections had the names of six such candidates with former BJP leader Manvendra Singh getting a ticket to contest from Jhalawar district which is predominantly Vasundhara Raje’s key domain.
Asked if the “outsider” tag given to Manvendra Singh was a poll issue, Dushyant Singh replied, “his (Manvendra Singh’s) family has moved from district to district, so it is part of his culture.” He further alleged that since they have never been associated with one particular place for very long they have not contributed to the development of any place.
On being asked whether Rajput votes could split with both candidates being from the same community, Dushyant Singh said: “My grandmother was a Kshatriya, my mother is a Rajput. My mother believes in all communities, unlike her opponent. All 36 communities are voting for the chief minister.”
Raje has been representing Jhalrapatan seat in the House of 200 assembly seats since 2003.
Manvendra Singh, son of rebel leader Jaswant Singh, formerly with the BJP, quit the BJP in September and joined the Congress in October. Singh was being allegedly sidelined within the ruling party, reportedly because of Raje’s feud with his father Jaswant Singh, who was denied a BJP ticket in the last Lok Sabha polls.
Apart from Manvendra Singh the other ‘parachute candidates’ which the Congress have fielded are, former BJP MP Harish Meena, who had switched over to the Congress on November 14, has been fielded from Deoli Uniara, Habib Ur Rehman from Nagaur, Sona Devi Bavari from Raisinghnagar and Khanhaiya Lal Jhawar from Bikaner East seat. Former IPS officer Sawai Singh Godara has been fielded from Khinvsar seat.
With Rajasthan going into polls on December 7, it would be interesting to see whether Congress’ attempt to cast a parachute candidate formally from the same party would go in the party’s favour or would turn out to be a major blooper, costing the party a hefty price.