The list of star campaigners of the ruling Congress and the Bhartiya Janta Party for the upcoming by-polls in Rajasthan gives a clear message. Both the parties are making efforts to dilute cracks within the party and present a united face.
The by-elections to two Assembly seats in the state-- at Vallabhnagar in Udaipur district and Dhariawad in Pratapgarh district-- were necessitated following the death of MLAs Gajendra Shaktawat and Gautam Lal Meena. The list of 20 BJP star campaigners for the by-polls include former Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje, Union ministers Bhupendra Yadav, Gajendra Singh, Arjun Meghwal and Kailash Chaudhary, BJP state president Satish Poonia, party's national general secretary Arun Singh, the leader of opposition in the state Assembly, Gulab Chand Kataria, deputy leader of opposition in the Assembly, Rajendra Rathore, national BJP secretary Alka Gurjar, Rajya Sabha MPs Om Mathur and Kirodi Lal Meena.
The political experts see the campaigner's list as an attempt to show the united front before the voters. "We have been repeatedly told to stand united and keep our differences at a bay and work hard in the campaigning", a senior BJP leader told Outlook.
Similarly, the campaigner's list released by congress also puts two factions together. The party has included Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his former deputy Sachin Pilot among its star campaigners. The list released by party general secretary KC Venugopal also has names of Ajay Maken, the in charge of the Rajasthan affairs at the AICC, and state Congress president Govind Singh Dotasra. The list is again seen as an effort by the party's high command to show a united face, amidst the known sour relationship between chief minister Ashok Gehlot and his former deputy Sachin Pilot.
The by-polls to the Vallabhnagar (Udaipur) and Dhariyawad (Pratapgarh) seats are scheduled for October 30. In Vallabhnagar, the BJP has given a ticket to Himmat Singh Jhala while fielded Khet Singh in Dhariyawad. The Congress has fielded Preeti Shaktawat from Vallabhnaga, which has traditionally been the party’s stronghold, and Nagraj Meena from Dhariyawad.
In the Assembly of 200, the ruling Congress at present has 106 MLAs, BJP 71, Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) 3, CPI(M) and Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) 2 each and the Rashtriya Lok Dal 1. Thirteen are independent legislators.