Rajasthan Assembly Election: From raging agrarian crisis to cow lynchings, here are the key poll issues in focus – Firstpost
As Rajasthan continues to be plagued by a devastating agrarian crisis, drinking water shortage, unemployment, and community divide, it remains to be seen who the state will vote to power on Friday. All eyes are on the BJP and Congress ahead of the state’s Assembly elections, slated to be held tomorrow. Here is a detailed look at some of the key issues in the state:
Farmers issues are most prominent in the state — including loan waivers, crop prices, and cow vigilantism — particularly in the arid Shekhawati region.
Much like neighbouring Gujarat, farmers’ issues may also play a major role in the voting preferences of the rural regions. If agrarian discontent translates to anger against the ruling party, it will worry the BJP. After farmers launched a protest in Mandsaur in Madhya Pradesh, the agitation soon spread to Rajasthan as farmers sought, among other things, higher minimum support price and loan waivers. However, the state government in September announced a Rs 60,000 crore farm loan waiver, which may douse some of the anger.
Anti-incumbency is also on the rise, which has reflected in opinion polls. Many have suggested a loss for the ruling BJP, citing failure to address the farmers’ grievances and unemployment. According to reports, 48 percent of the region wants the government to change, whereas 41 percent support the ruling BJP.
“There is anti-incumbency against the Vasundhara Raje government. All sections of the society, including farmers, youngsters, Brahmins, Rajputs, SCs, and Muslims are unhappy with the government for not delivering on promises,” Congress leader Rajendra Chaudhary had said.
Rajasthan has also made headlines because of hate crimes and politics of polarisation. The political campaign during the 29 January bypolls in Alwar also provide a sign of things to come. The Congress had in January filed a complaint with the Election Commission after BJP Jaswant Yadav told a rally, “If you are a Hindu, vote for the BJP. Muslims will go with the Congress.”
A Facebook post by BJP MLA from Alwar had on 2 January stated that Muslims are having more children to outnumber Hindus and take over the country.
Caste considerations will also impact the elections to a great extent. Jats and Meenas — both comprising about 10 percent of the population— are numerically significant communities in the state.
Several of the communities in the state have been antagonistic to each other in the past. For instance, in 2009, the tribal Meena community had resented the demand for reservation of the Gujjars, and had demanded that they should be included in the Scheduled Tribes category, as an article in Mint states.
Similarly, historically, there was antagonism between Jats and Rajputs, due to the latter’s feudal past, as this Firstpost article states. In the early decades after independence, Jats gravitated towards the Congress while the Rajputs voted for opposition parties. However, the ‘feudal’ perception holds relatively lesser influence now, according to the article. The Congress’ decision to make Ashok Gehlot — who belongs to the Mali community — the chief minister instead of Jat leader Paras Ram Maderna also did not go down well with the community. In recent elections, their vote has swung both ways, even as the community has largely voted as a block.
In tandem with caste, religious politics will also be in the limelight. Muslims constitute 9.07 percent of the population, and hold particular power to alter the vote share in Tonk. It has been suggested that to appease the Muslims in Tonk, the BJP has fielded its only Muslim candidate Yoonus Khan. On a similar note, the Congress has fielded Sachin Pilot to appease the extensive Gujjar community in the region as well.
Water scarcity, unemployment and connectivity
The state also faces a lot of other issues, such as unemployment, and lack of industries. The state has limited railway links, despite there being a demand for years.
According to reports, drinking water scarcity is also quite severe in the state. Particularly, Tonk city and the villages in the district get drinking water supply on alternate days for a few hours.
“Most days, we get brackish water in supply,” News18 quoted one resident as saying. “Drinking water comes on every other day and lasts for an hour at the maximum,” he added.
With inputs from PTI