The ruling BJP and the Opposition Congress are locked in a direct fight in the bypoll to the Dholpur Assembly seat which has become a prestige issue for both parties ahead of the 2018 Assembly polls.
The by-election has been necessitated after the seat fell vacant on termination of the membership of B L Kushwah following his conviction and life imprisonment in a murder case in December last year.
The BJP has fielded Kushwah’s wife Shobha Rani (35) who is contesting the election against Congress’s veteran leader and former MLA Banwari Lal (78).
B L Kushwah had won the assembly election on a BSP ticket by defeating Congress candidate Banwari Lal Sharma in 2013.
The convict’s wife is contesting the by-election on BJP ticket now whereas the Congress has chosen Banwari Lal Sharma once again, to fight the bye-election.
There are as many as 15 candidates contesting the bye-election, including 25-year-old Gunjan Jatav. 12 of them are independent candidates.
SP has fielded Banvari Sharma while there is no candidate contesting from BSP.
After the astounding victory in Uttar Pradesh assembly polls, BJP is leaving no stone unturned to ensure victory in the bye-election on April 9 as it has become a prestige issue.
The party is seeking vote on development agenda while the Congress leaders led by PCC Chief Sachin Pilot are accusing the BJP government of failing to deliver and exuding confidence of winning the seat.
Nearly a dozen ministers of the Vasundhara Raje government and senior leaders including Health Minister Kalicharan Saraf, Panchayati Raj Minister Rajendra Rathore, Transport Minister Yunus Khan, MP Manoj Rajouria, Raje s son and MP Dushyant Singh, MLAs have been involved in campaigning in Dholpur.
The chief minister herself visited the constituency few days back to review the election preparedness.
During the campaigning, BJP leaders are highlighting development while the Congress leaders are accusing the government of corruption and failing to deliver good governance in the state.
Claiming that development has set new records in Dholpur in the BJP regime, party state president Ashok Parnami exuded confidence of winning the by-poll.
“Under the leadership of chief minister Vasundhara Raje, Dholpur got Chambal Lift Project, better health care services, engineering colleges, better employment and education opportunities,” he said at a meeting of the party workers.
On the other hand, PCC Chief Sachin Pilot alleged that the government has failed to curb crimes happening in the state while corruption is also rampant in the BJP rule.
“It is an irony that despite Dholpur being the home ground of the chief minister, it has been neglected.There is no development and now the BJP is contesting election on the development agenda,” Pilot told PTI.
He alleged that BJP candidate Shobha Rani is facing fraud charges and the chief minister has banked on such a candidate.
“BSP has not fielded its candidate and we will get a political advantage of it.I have campaigned in over 100 villages where I found resentment among people against the government,” he claimed.
The parties are also eyeing caste equations on the seat which is dominated by mainly Kushwah and Branhim voters, followed by Jatav, Muslims and Gurjars.
In the House of 200, the ruling BJP has 160 MLAs and the result of the Dholpur by-election will not have any impact on the government’s stability yet it has become a significant test for the chief minister as Dholpur is her home ground.
The seat will go to poll on April 9 and counting of votes will be take place on April 13.
Located in the eastern part of the state at a distance of over 270 km from the capital, Dholpur shares border with Uttar Pradesh, where the BJP has just recorded a victory in the assembly, and Madhya Pradesh.