Jaipur: Bypolls in Khinvsar (Nagaur) and Mandawa (Jhunjhunu) on Monday will be a litmus test for both the BJP and the ruling Congress. The former is hoping a clean sweep and is banking on the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while the Congress is confident of winning both the seats based on its 10 months’ performance in the state.
A total of 12 candidates are in the fray including nine in Mandawa and three in Khinvsar. But the real battle is between the BJP-RLP and the Congress. The Mandawa and Khinvsar seats were vacated after Narendra Kumar and Hanuman Beniwal were elected as MPs from Jhunjhunu and Nagaur, respectively. The counting will be held on October 24.
The RLP-BJP alliance has fielded Beniwal’s younger brother Narayan Beniwal against veteran Congress leader Harendra Mirdha in Khinvsar. In Mandawa, Congress candidate Rita Chaudhary is taking on former Congress leader Susheela Sigra who joined BJP hours before her candidature was announced by the saffron party.
The polls are crucial for BJP president Satish Poonia who was appointed barely a month before the polls. The results will reflect people’s mood about 10-month performance of the Ashok Gehlot-led government. Both the parties have fielded battery of leaders to ensure victory.
BJP roped in its star campaigners including cabinet ministers who raised issues like abrogation of Article 370 and leadership of PM Narendra Modi while Congress has nothing to offer other than its social welfare schemes. Most of the candidates spent their Sunday visiting temples and holding meetings with party leaders.
These by-polls are also important for former CM Vasundhara Raje who distanced herself from campaigning. This has sparked speculations over her political career after snub from the central leaders over her strong dislike for Beniwal. Similarly, it has also exposed Congress infighting as CM Gehlot and deputy CM Sachin Pilot did not seem to make a joint effort during campaigning.
The chief electoral office has reviewed the security arrangements at both the assembly segments. The office has declared 60 polling booths in Mandawa and 121 in Khinvsar as critical.