PTI Jhalawar, Rajasthan, India
Dec 02, 2018, 03.49 PM
Pitted against the BJP chief minister Vasundhara Raje in a high-stakes contest, the Congress candidate Manvendra Singh is asking voters in the Jhalrapatan constituency whether they want their vote to go in favour of an outgoing government or for the incoming one.
The Congress leader, who switched over from the BJP just weeks before being fielded against the chief minister, is putting this poser in all his election meetings throughout the day while asserting that there was a 'wave' in favour of the grand-old party across the state leaving no doubt about who would form the government.
'Apna mat kisko doge Avavaldhi ko ya Javavaldhi ko (You will give your vote to the incoming government or the outgoing government), he asked the crowd in Daulatpura village during his campaign trail.
Dubbed as an 'outsider' and a 'turncoat' by his opponents, Singh is looking to counter these charges with an extensive outreach campaign for which he sets off in the morning and till late evening goes from village to village to interact with the people of the constituency and seek votes.
Dressed in his trademark dhoti, kurta and a colourful bandhej safa, Singh greets people along the way, obliges selfie seekers, and tells people to vote in large numbers.
His electoral pitch to voters remains the same as he reaches out to village elders, youth and even children.
In Devchi village here, he highlighted the lack of roads and drainage system, saying if villages in a 'VIP constituency' were in such a state then what would be the condition of other places.
'Even before polling, people know what the result would be. There is a wave that the incoming government will be of the Congress. There is no dispute on that. The only point of debate is how many seats it will get.
'Some say 130, some say 140, while some even say over 150. So when there is no doubt about this, the question to you is whether your vote will be in favour of the incoming government or the outgoing government," he asked voters in Devchi village.
Raje formed the state government with a massive majority in the 2013 assembly elections, in which the BJP had won a record 163 seats and the Congress could get just 21. The BSP had got three seats, while independents and candidates of other parties won 13.
With the Congress making an all-out effort to return to power in Rajasthan, Singh said the government that will come this time will be for the villages and for the welfare of the farmers.
Another common theme of his campaign meetings is highlighting the key farmers-related promises made by the Congress in its manifesto such as loan waiver for them and pension for elderly farmers for the first time.
In Rampuria village, he repeated his pitch to voters and also welcomed a BJP worker into the Congress fold.
Often, Singh also tries to connect with village elders and farmers and tells them to take care of the December 7 voting.
'This time it will be the Congress' 'hand' that will win from here,' said Gangaram, a farmer, referring to the party's poll symbol.
Another farmer at one of Singh's meeting, Jujhar Singh, said it was time for a change as development has lagged behind in the village.
While support for Singh in villages seems to be growing, it appears to be an uphill task for him in the city where people swear by the rapid development undertaken by Raje to give the town amenities such hospitals, schools and infrastructure.
Rampal Yadav, an auto-driver, when asked about the much-talked-about electoral battle here, said it was just a hype and in reality, it was a one-sided contest in favour of Raje.
Echoing his views, a restaurant owner said the credit for all the development in the city goes to Raje and she will win comfortably.
Manvendra Singh's wife, Chitra Singh, has also been working hard in the city, campaigning for her husband from morning to evening in a bid to win supporters.
Rajput vote is crucial for both candidates and they have been trying to woo the community with outreach efforts.
Singh also addressed a Rajput community meeting on Friday where Rajput leaders called for unity and support for him.
Chitra Singh also exhorted the gathering to unite and said the Rajput community needed to learn from other communities when it comes to acting unitedly.
The result may be difficult to guess, but Singh is making an all-out effort in what is being seen as a prestige battle.
The much-talked-about differences between the two leaders have made the Singh-Raje battle even more interesting.
Congress candidate Manvendra Singh is asking voters in the Jhalrapatan constituency whether they want their vote to go in favour of an outgoing government or for the incoming one.