Congress struggling with caste line-upMar 17th, 2009 | By editor | Category: Rajasthan
Ruling party yet to finalist list of LS nomineesBJP has announced names of 11 candidates
JAIPUR: More than a week after the Bharatiya Janata Party had its first list of candidates for the coming Lok Sabha elections from Rajasthan announced, the ruling Congress here is yet to finalise its list.
The Congress, which claimed the advantage of a head start in the recent Assembly elections by announcing its candidates before those of the BJP, is still seemingly weighing the caste equations in each of the 25 Lok Sabha seats here in the context of changes that have taken place in the delimitation of constituencies.
Perhaps the Congress leadership is in no hurry to come out with the names because polling is scheduled for May 7, in the fourth phase, though the impression given initially was that its first list would come out around March 15. Yet the fact remains that the party is still struggling with the decision-making even on the 12 seats (now 11, as one of its nominees, Girdharilal Bhargava, passed away last week) announced by the BJP.
However — as Congress insiders point out — it has to be conceded that an overall idea on the caste representation is vital even before deciding on candidates for the seats in which the BJP has given out the names. Obviously the Congress has to ensure adequate representation for Jats, Rajputs, Brahmins, Meenas, Gujjars, Malis, Vishnois and Yadavs — besides taking into account the impact of a particular candidate of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the seats reserved for them, in the neighbouring seats. Unlike the BJP which perhaps can ignore the Muslims and get away with it in Rajasthan, the Congress will have to give one seat to the community. Then there is the very sensitive issue of adequate representation to women. The BJP has already nominated one woman — Bindu Choudhary for Nagaur — and the Congress is toying with the idea of fielding Jyoti, the granddaughter of the late Jat leader Nathuram Mirdha from there. In fact, the decision on candidates here should have been easy for the Congress as compared to the BJP as the party does not have many sitting MPs after winning only four seats in Rajasthan in 2004. The BJP has nominated a majority of its sitting MPs barring the Kota MP, Raghuveer Singh Kaushal, former State president and Bhanwarsingh Dangawas from Nagaur. Film-star politician Dharmendra too was not re-nominated by the party after his seat, Bikaner got reserved. The party re-nominated one of its sitting MPs, Nihal Chand Meghwal, who lost the recent Assembly polls.
While only one sitting MP — Karan Singh Yadav from Alwar â€” had fought the Assembly election from the party after some persuasion, among the names short-listed for the Lok Sabha are a good number of candidates who could not make it in the Assembly.
In the turbulent times of Gujjar-Meena stand-off over ST status for the former, the Congress is also in a piquant situation over deciding on seats for Union Minister Namonarain Meena and young leader Sachin Pilot. Mr. Meena, who won from Sawai Madhopur last time, has to shift out now with the constituency going general. He can opt for Dausa which is now under ST but the dilemma is that the seat, once represented by the late Rajesh Pilot and now by his son Mr. Sachin Pilot, has a considerable number of Gujjars who may not like to vote a Meena.
Mr. Pilot too is looking for a new seat and he does not have the options his father had during his heydays — like fighting from the Lok Sabah constituencies of Bharatpur or Ajmer, besides Dausa. Bharatpur is out of reckoning as it is now reserved for Scheduled Castes and Ajmer may not be a very comfortable seat. However, Sachin has an option to fight either from Jaipur rural or Bhilwara â€“ constituencies with considerable Gujjar population.