Mewar has always been the epicentre of politics in Rajasthan. Whenever the state has been looking for a king, the region has played the role of a kingmaker. Mohan Lal Sukhadiya, Heeralal Devpura, Haridev Joshi and Shiv Charan Mathur, all former chief ministers of Rajasthan, hail from Udaipur division. In the last two elections as well Mewar was responsible for the politics that led to the formation of the BJP and Congress governments in state.
A close look at the political history of Udaipur division and the state shows that gaining majority in this region is a prerequisite to form a government. Prior to 2003 elections, when Vasundhara Raje was declared the BJP chief, the first thing she did was to pay obeisance at the Tripura Sundari Temple, a move which is believed to have created a wave in BJP’s favour. The party won 22 out of 28 seats from this region and BJP formed a government in Rajasthan that year. During the elections, Congress was left with only six Assembly seats.
There was a reversal of fortunes in the 2008 elections in Mewar. Congress president Sonia Gandhi started the campaigning in state from Mewar, then. Mewar rewarded the party with 22 seats. However, anti-incumbency was also a major factor in the hammering of BJP candidates in Mewar this time. Having pocketed the major chunk of seats in this division, the Congress went on to form the government under chief minister Ashok Gehlot.
With history threatening to repeat itself, both Congress and BJP are believed to be leaving no stone unturned to bag the maximum seats in Mewar. Both parties are undoubtedly seeking an entry to the political corridors of Jaipur via Udaipur.
While BJP state head Vasundhara Raje kicked off party’s statewide Swaraj Sankalp Yatra from Mewar, Congress also roped in the Gandhi scion and party’s V-P to whip up support in tribal belt of this region like Salumber and Udaipur. To counter the Congress offensive, RSS organised a ‘Virat Hindu Sammelan’ in Beneshwar, Wagad region, to woo the tribal electorate that abounds here. The BJP is expected to make similar effort to bring the voters to its fold with its ‘Adivasi Sammelan’, where its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi will address a rally in Udaipur on October 29.
The Achilles’ heel
Though majority of voters here are tribals, both the Congress and BJP do not have a prominent tribal leader in the region. Congress has been bestowed with leaders like Dr Girija Vyas and CP Joshi representing the region at Centre and BJP has comfortably accommodated personalities like Kiran Maheshwari and leader of the Opposition Gulab Chand Kataria. But none of them are tribals.
While Congress does flaunt Raghuveer Meena and Tarachand Bhagora, and BJP, Mahavir Bhagora, these MPs lack a stronghold over the tribal region. None of these names are competent enough to sway the voters off their feet. This is the reason why both the parties are pulling out all plugs to gather support.
The Kirori factor
Sensing a big void in the region, tribal leader Kirori Lal Meena has already started campaigning in the region. Though Kirori Lal may not be able to sway voters in large numbers in his favour, he is sure to eat into BJP’s and Congress’ vote banks. While the Third Front is also increasing its activities in the region, their success in the region is questionable because history goes against their claims.
Change of equations in store?
Out of the 28 seats in the region, BJP won 22 in the 2003 elections, while there was a complete reversal of the situation in 2008 as Congress won the same number of seats to romp back to power. Though Congress has initiated various schemes for the tribals and its workers are enthusiastic about the outcome of these flagship schemes, slow implementation and anti-incumbency factor are a big concern for the party. BJP, on the other hand, has various reasons to be happy, including the influence its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi holds over the region.
In Mewar, a candidate who has a direct access to the people is expected to take the lead and swing votes in party’s favour. This is region where the majority of electorate is truly backward and looks up to its candidates to better the community’s fortunes. Issues like corruption and inflation trouble voters in their day-to-day life, so their impact cannot altogether be negated in the upcoming polls.