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National

Raj civic polls: CM Gehlot, LS Speaker Birla's image at stake

IANS | October 28, 2020 03:33 PM

JAIPUR:The image of many senior leaders including Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekahwat and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla is at stake in the Rajasthan municipal polls scheduled to be held in Jaipur, Jodhpur and Kota on October 29 and November 1 for six corporations, two in each district.

Although the polls are local, the campaigning by national leaders have made them quite interesting, enhancing their significance and stature.

The first interesting fight is in Jodhpur which is represented by Gehlot and Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat. While Gehlot is MLA from Jodhpur's Sardarpura, Shekhawat was elected as MP in the Lok Sabha polls after defeating Gehlot's son Vaibhav who was the Congress representative.

Shekhawat has a strong presence on the ground during campaigning, however the absence of Gehlot during the poll campaigning has created a political buzz in the desert state.

All eyes are set to see if the local elections repeat the Lok Sabha story and if the saffron flag flies over two corporations here.

Gehlot has cancelled all his meetings after many people tested COVID positive in CMO and CMR. However, he has been attending video conferences to ensure things go smoothly in the state and his son Vaibhav Gehlot is handling matters in Jodhpur.

There were reports of infighting coming in from Jodhpur which Gehlot tried to placate while being in Jaipur. However his absence on the ground and Shekhawat's strong presence are being discussed widely in the political corridors as Shekhawat is openly announcing that CM has "avenged" the defeat of his son by ignoring Jodhpur.

Municipal polls in Kota are also going to be interesting as the district is represented by Lok Speaker Birla who has a clean image in the city. Anti-incumbency against state minister Shanti Dhariwal who represents Kota is yet another key issue in the polls.

Dhariwal did not visit his home constituency when hundreds of children died in the JK Lon hospital last winter. Also, he was not seen many times here during the COVID crisis which is being discussed at length.

In Jaipur, there is a clash between two newly-appointed state presidents of Congress and BJP.

Congress PCC chief Govind Singh Dotasara is a one-man army as all PCC boards were dissolved in July after former PCC chief and Deputy CM Sachin pilot revolted against CM Gehlot. Internal factions definitely pose bigger challenges to him but the man remains confident of winning all six corporations in three districts.

"We will win all six corporations, " he says with confidence, adding "It hardly matters if there are PCC chiefs in each district or not. We have a strong team of workers who are working day and night to bring in wins for the party, " he adds.

Meanwhile BJP's new state president Satish Poonia's image is equally at stake with a strong faction led by former CM Vasundhara Raje maintaining a fair distance from the party office and poll preparedness. Infighting is at its peak and Poonia can be seen maintaining a balance to come out successful in this litmus test.

"Congress stands synonymous with corruption and anarchy in the state. In the last 20 months, the Congress government has ruined law and order. All promises made to the people are being flouted openly. The depressed voter is hence waiting for his turn to teach a lesson to this party. We shall win all six corporation polls, " he said.

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