Jaipur: The turncoats are enjoying considerable influence in the Rajasthan election. Parties are setting aside their traditional ideologies to field "winnable" candidates from other parties as soon as they join, marking a departure from the past. Even the two major parties, the Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress, are following this trend. Both parties have emphasised that winnability is the primary criterion for candidate selection, which has, in many cases, favored turncoats over dedicated party workers.
Interestingly, the BJP, which often emphasises its ideology and values, has given more tickets to these leaders compared to the Congress. Meanwhile, for those who could not secure tickets from either the BJP or Congress, the doors of Hanuman Beniwal's RLP and Mayawati's BSP are open, offering tickets as soon as these individuals join these parties.
Local leaders from both major parties have refrained from official comments on this situation, as the party's high command is involved in these decisions. However, they acknowledge that this practice discourages party workers and isn't beneficial for the party's internal dynamics.
Who are Congress' candidates?
Congress has issued tickets to three former BJP leaders. These include Vikas Chaudhary from Kishangarh, Shobharani Kushwaha from Dholpur, and Surendra Goyal from Jaitaran. Vikas Chaudhary, who contested as a BJP candidate from Kishangarh in 2018, announced his independent candidacy after being denied a ticket. He later joined Congress and secured the Kishangarh ticket.
Surendra Goyal, a former minister in Vasundhara Raje's government, had his BJP ticket canceled in the 2018 elections. He ran as an independent and lost. In this election, he joined Congress and became the party's candidate from Jaitaran.
Shobharani Kushwaha, who won the Dholpur seat on a BJP ticket in 2018, was expelled from the party for defying the whip and voting for a Congress candidate in the Rajya Sabha elections. She is now the Congress candidate from Dholpur.
Congress has also managed to lure BSP candidate Imran Khan to contest from the Tijara seat.
Who are BJP's candidates?
Unlike Congress, BJP has granted more opportunities to leaders who switched parties. Jyoti Mirdha, who served as a Congress MP and ran for the Nagaur seat in the 2014 and 2019 parliamentary elections, recently joined BJP and secured the Nagaur ticket.
Subhash Mahariya, a former minister in Atal Bihari Vajpayee's government, later joined Congress. He contested the last Lok Sabha elections from Sikar on a Congress ticket but lost to BJP's Sumedhanand. In this election, he is running from Laxmangarh on a BJP ticket against Congress State President Govind Singh Dotasara.
Shivcharan Kushwaha ran for the Dholpur seat on a Congress ticket in 2018 but was defeated by the BJP's Shobharani Kushwaha. Interestingly, both have switched parties, with Shivcharan as a BJP candidate and Shobharani as a Congress candidate.
Darshan Singh Gurjar, Subhash Meel, and Uday Lal Dangi have secured BJP candidacies for Karauli, Khandela, and Vallabhnagar seats, respectively. All three had previously been associated with Congress and joined the BJP recently, becoming candidates within hours of joining.
Vishwaraj Singh Mewar, a member of the former Udaipur royal family, received a BJP ticket from Nathdwara shortly after joining the party.
Ramniwas Meena, who had been leading a movement for the East Rajasthan Canal Project, joined the BJP and was promptly named the candidate from the Todabhim seat.
RLP and BSP
Hanuman Beniwal's RLP and Mayawati's BSP, active in Rajasthan, lack organisation and leaders at the grassroots level. As a result, these parties have become a haven for BJP and Congress rebels, with over a dozen leaders from both major parties joining RLP and BSP to contest the election.