Can the CPI(M) pull off Sikar?May 5th, 2009 | By Elections2009 | Category: Key constituencies
Mohammed Iqbal, Sikar
The Left party has emerged as a force to reckon with in this constituency
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) is all set to give a tough fight to the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party in a triangular contest in this Jat stronghold of Rajasthan, after emerging as a force to reckon with by spearheading the public agitations for rolling back the power tariff hike and supply of irrigation waters over the last three years.
The CPI(M)’s astonishing ascendance since 2004, when it garnered only 8.5 per cent of the vote in the Sikar Lok Sabha constituency, has altered equations and has raised the possibility that the Left party could actually pull of what was regarded as impossible and win this seat.
Download PDF version in colour
The CPI(M) has fielded its sitting MLA from Dantaramgarh, Amra Ram, who has been at the forefront of the farmers’ agitation and enjoys a rapport with the local electorate. He came third after the BJP and Congress in the 2004 election. The BJP candidate is the sitting MP Subhash Maharia, while the Congress has nominated Mahadev Singh, who lost the 2008 Assembly election from Khandela.
That the Communists have gained the support and confidence of the people and could emerge victorious is reflected in the popular mood among voters in both rural areas and towns. Red flags are hoisted everywhere and Mr. Ram’s popularity is evident, even among the non-Jats.
CPI(M) State Secretary Vasudev points out that the rollback of the power tariff hike during the previous Vasundhara Raje regime benefited the farmers hugely as there were nearly 10 lakh tubewells operational in constituency. “The CPI(M)-sponsored padaav [stay] of farmers in Jaipur for several days in 2007 did the magic,” he said.
The Congress-led State government has also promised not to increase the power tariff. “This came about because of the relentless struggle of Communist leaders in general and Mr. Ram in particular, who has fought both inside and outside the Assembly,” says Prof. Vasudev.
During its campaign, the CPI(M) has raised the key issue of lack of industrialisation of the region while pointing out the irony that almost all industrial magnates of the country — Birla, Dalmia, Modi, Poddar and Mittal — hail from Shekhawati. Mr. Ram has assured voters that if elected, he will work for creating employment opportunities and converting the railway line into broad gauge.
The Students Federation of India (SFI) State president Abid Ali says the minority votes, crucial in the Lok Sabha seat, were showing a clear sign of a “wholesale shift” towards the CPI(M) in view of strong resentment against the Congress. The middle class too is fed up with the liquor and land mafia and wants a person with a clean image to represent the seat in the Parliament.
CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat underlined the significance of Sikar in the formation of the Third Front government in the Centre and said the constituency would have an “important role” in the scheme of things after the results are out.
Evidently, the CPI(M) thinks it can open its account in Rajasthan on its own. Earlier, Shyopat Singh of the party was elected from Bikaner in 1989 in an arrangement with the then Janata Dal.
Mr. Maharia faces an anti-incumbency sentiment after three continuous terms, while the electorate is questioning the wisdom of Congress’ decision to field Mr. Mahadev Singh, who lost the Assembly elections.