For the best experience, open
on your mobile browser or Download our App.

Rogue Candidates, Leaders Refusing to Honour INDIA Ties Add to Congress’s Rajasthan Woes

The multiple flip flops come at a time when the Congress along with other parties in the INDIA alliance are hoping to prevent the BJP from winning all 25 Lok Sabha seats in Rajasthan.
A Congress rally in Jaipur. Photo: X/@PSKhachariyawas

Jaipur: A candidate designated by the grand old party for the Lok Sabha election bows out of the race, another leader goes incommunicado and switches off his phone, refusing to withdraw his nomination even after directions from the Congress high command – a bizarre string of events are playing out in the Congress party in Rajasthan before the Lok Sabha elections.

The multiple flip flops come at a time when the Congress along with other parties in the INDIA alliance are hoping to prevent the BJP from winning all 25 Lok Sabha seats in Rajasthan, a feat that the saffron party and its allies have repeated two consecutive times in the last one decade.

The latest incident in the sequence is from southern Rajasthan’s Banswara Lok Sabha seat, where the Congress party’s symbol is all set to be listed in EVMs on voting day, despite the fact that the party has officially pledged support to the Bharat Adivasi Party (BAP) candidate from the seat as part of the understanding within the INDIA alliance.

Back and forth on alliance with BAP, and a ‘rogue’ candidate

While the Congress had announced its candidates on most of the Lok Sabha seats in Rajasthan, it had refrained from announcing a name from the Banswara parliamentary seat, where the BJP has nominated local strongman Mahendrajeet Singh Malviya, who had recently quit Congress to join the saffron party.

After sensing the wave of support in the constituency for the Bharat Adivasi Party (BAP), a section of Congress leaders including Rajasthan in-charge Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa were in favour of an alliance with the party, which at present has three MLAs in the 200-member Rajasthan assembly.

The BAP has announced Chorasi MLA Rajkumar Roat from Banswara. Since his candidature was announced, Roat has been pulling massive crowds.

However, local Congress MLAs were dead set against any alliance with the BAP, with Congress legislators such as Ganesh Ghogra opposing any plans of a tie up with the Adivasi party.

After much dilly dally, on April 4, which was the last day of the nomination process, the Congress had announced the name of its senior leader and former minister Arjun Singh Bamaniya from the Banswara Lok Sabha seat.

From left Arjun Singh Bamaniya, Arvind Damor and Rajkumar Roat.

But surprisingly, Bamaniya did not file his nomination papers and instead it was local Congress leader Arvind Damor, who filed his nomination as the Congress candidate from Banswara.

In another development, on April 7, Congress’s Rajasthan in-charge Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa announced on X that the Congress is extending its support to the BAP candidates for the Banswara parliamentary constituency in upcoming Lok Sabha elections and in the Bagidora assembly constituency by-elections.

“Safeguarding India’s constitution and its democracy is our primary objective,” said Randhawa.

But soon after declaring its support for the BAP, Congress faced a peculiar problem. Arvind Damor, the young Congress leader who had filed his nomination under the party symbol for the Banswara Lok Sabha elections, went incommunicado and refused to withdraw his candidature.

Damor later asked reporters if the Congress wanted him to withdraw the form, why was he asked by Bamaniya to file it in the first place, adding that he will fight the elections for the local youth subscribing to the Congress’s ideology.

As a result, after the time to withdraw nominations passed, the Congress now has a candidate contesting the Banswara Lok Sabha elections on its party symbol, despite the grand old party lending support to the BAP. Congress has subsequently expelled Damor for a period of six years but he remains a candidate who will contest the elections from Banswara on the hand symbol.

Flip-flop over tickets in Rajsamand, Jaipur

The incident in Banswara was not the first such instance before the Lok Sabha elections when the Congress was in for a shock, with its leaders defying the party.

Last month, the Congress announced the name of Sudarshan Singh Rawat, its former MLA from Bheem seat, as its candidate for the Rajsamand parliamentary constituency.

But even long after announcing his candidature, the Congress couldn’t contact Rawat, who later wrote a letter to Congress president Govind Singh Dotasra saying that he had earlier communicated his desire to not contest the elections.

As a result of Rawat’s refusal, the Congress had to shift Damodar Gurjar, its candidate from Bhilwara to neighbouring Rajsamand while senior Congress leader CP Joshi had to be fielded from Bhilawara.

Earlier, the Congress had also changed its Jaipur candidate Sunil Sharma and replaced him with Pratap Singh Khachariyawas, after a public uproar ensued over Sharma’s alleged association with Jaipur Dialogues, a right-wing platform which routinely criticises Congress and its leaders.

While Sharma maintained that he had no association with Jaipur Dialogues and its social media channels, even Congress leaders such as Shashi Tharoor had expressed their surprise over the move.

After severe backlash, Sharma withdrew his candidature and Khachariyawas’s name was announced as his replacement from the Jaipur Lok Sabha seat.

A similar incident was also seen in Nagaur, where the Congress has allied with the Hanuman Beniwal-led Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP). During a recent speech, Beniwal, who is the INDIA alliance’s candidate from Nagaur said that some Congress leaders are openly campaigning for the BJP.

After Beniwal’s comments, the Congress suspended some of its leaders from Nagaur, including Tejpal Mirdha, who had unsuccessfully contested the 2023 Assembly elections against Beniwal on a Congress ticket.

BJP says Congress’s house not in order, Congress cites actions against dissidents

The BJP has slammed the Congress over the series of flip flops in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, accusing the party of not finding enough candidates to contest the parliamentary elections.

“These days people know that one cannot win elections on a Congress ticket. As a result there is panic within the Congress as leaders are repeatedly saying they didn’t want to contest elections but are made to contest in the party. The public is with Modi ji. A party, which till a few months back was in power in Rajasthan, is struggling to find 25 candidates to contest. As a result it is tying up with other parties such as CPM and RLP, in areas including the backyard of the state Congress president. It shows that the BJP will once again win,” Rajasthan BJP president Laxmikant Bhardwaj told The Wire.

The Congress hit back, citing action taken against its dissident leaders and attacking BJP over accusations of infighting within the saffron party.

“The Congress is contesting the elections with full strength. We have already taken action against those Congress leaders who were working against the party, be it in Nagaur or Banswara. The BJP is riddled with infighting. One can see that in the absence of senior BJP leaders such as former chief minister Vasundhara Raje. BJP leaders are not citing their work but are asking for votes in the name of the Prime Minister. It won’t work this time as the public will vote for Congress,” said Rajasthan Congress general secretary and spokesperson Swarnim Chaturvedi.

Make a contribution to Independent Journalism
facebook twitter