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Rajasthan: Withdrawal of candidature by Congress LS candidates raises questions

Jaipur : Refusal to contest Lok Sabha elections by at least two Congress leaders, despite being nominated by the party, poses serious questions for the main opposition party in Rajasthan.

Notably, senior Congress leaders such as former Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, former Deputy CM Sachin Pilot and party’s state chief Govind Singh Dotasra are also not contesting the polls.

However, Rajasthan Congress General Secretary Swarnim Chaturvedi claimed that the BJP is “spreading the misconception that no senior leader is ready to contest Lok Sabha elections”.

“The BJP workers are spreading a misconception that seniors are not contesting. Former Speaker C.P. Joshi is contesting from Bhilwara and former ministers, including Udailal Anjana, Murari Lal Meena, Bhajan Lal Jatav, Govindram Meghwal, Brijendra Ola and Pratap Singh Khachariyawas, are also contesting elections. They are all senior Congress leaders,” he .

“Congress stands strong in Rajasthan and this time, it won’t be a cakewalk for the BJP to sweep all 25 seats,” Chaturvedi added.

So far, three Congress leaders have publicly expressed their unwillingness to contest the Lok Sabha polls. Of them, two have withdrawn their candidature while one is still in the contest.

Congress leader Sunil Sharma, who was nominated to contest from Jaipur, offered to return the ticket after a controversy emerged over his alleged connection with ‘Jaipur Dialogue’, a pro-RSS organisation. His ticket was cancelled and former state minister Pratap Singh Khachariyawas was given the ticket.

Sudarshan Singh Rawat, who was nominated by the Congress from Rajsamand, refused to contest the election citing personal reasons. In a letter to the party state president Govind Singh Dotasra, Rawat expressed his displeasure over making him a candidate without his consent.

After Rawat’s refusal, Congress fielded Damodar Gurjar, who was earlier the party’s candidate from Bhilwara. The party has now given the Bhilwara ticket to C.P. Joshi.

Congress candidate from Jhunjhunu Lok Sabha constituency, Brijendra Ola, joined the league of Sharma and Rawat claiming he was not interested in contesting polls and had never asked for a ticket. He, however, has not taken back his candidature.

Congress’ Jaipur candidate Khachariyawas during his campaigning even said that he has become weak after Assembly polls and thus needs people’s help.

According to Congress insiders, the party leadership was aghast over Khachariyawas’ statement and said that declaring oneself weak during campaigning is like accepting defeat before contesting the election.

The state Congress General Secretary said that there are reasons for these leaders withdrawing candidature and issuing such statements.

“Sharma refused candidature over Jaipur Dialogue controversy while Rawat had personal issues so he refused to contest polls,” said Chaturvedi.

About Ola, he said: “Yes it’s true that he did not ask for a ticket and was contesting because the party gave him a ticket.”

On Khachariyawas remarks, Chaturvedi said, “Khachariyawas lost Assembly polls due to his high-handed image and now he wants an image makeover and so he made such a remark to build a soft image.”

“Mark my words, Congress will not allow BJP to make a clean sweep and will give a tough fight on at least 10 seats,” he added.

Meanwhile, senior journalist Prakash Bhandari said, “Congress workers are getting demoralised with prominent faces walking out of the contest. Surprisingly, state leaders like Gehlot and Dotasra are unable to keep party workers motivated. Their confidence level has gone down.”

He further said that the onus of this situation “lies with Sachin Pilot who talks big but is scared of fighting the election”.

“Gehlot at least fielded his son, but what is Pilot’s contribution? He has not done anything to prevent the exodus of Congress leaders… He could have set the example by contesting the election. People are discussing that Gehlot has made his son a scapegoat, but at least being a leader, he has shown the way to other workers. But Pilot has only been talking and has done nothing to set an example for other leaders,” he added.

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