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Banswara: Congress Campaigning Against its Own Candidate

Banswara: Congress Campaigning Against its Own Candidate

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NEW DELHI, Apr 24: A peculiar situation has developed in the tribal-dominated Banswara-Dungarpur Lok Sabha constituency in Rajasthan where the Congress is forced to issue appeals to the voters not to vote for its own candidate.

The reason for this peculiarity is party’s delayed decision to support the Bharat Adivasi Party (BAP) candidate Rajkumar Roat and the Congress nominee for the seat playing truant at the crucial moment.

After much flip-flop, the Congress decided to support Mr Roat only a day before the last date of withdrawal of nominations – despite fielding its own candidate Arvind Damor.

In accordance with the party’s announcement to support the BAP, Damor was supposed to withdraw his nomination papers but he was nowhere to be seen till the last date of withdrawal of nominations was over. Later, appearing before the media, Damor feigned ignorance about the developments and declared that he would continue to remain in the fray and would not retire.

What was supposed to be a bipolar contest between the BJP and the Congress-BAP alliance has turned into a three-way fight with Damor likely to divide the Congress votes thus, giving an edge to the saffron party candidate – Mahendrajit Singh Malviya.

While the local leadership of the Congress has appealed to the people to vote for Roat instead of their own candidate, Damor has claimed that he has the support of a section of the party leaders who are against the alliance with the BAP. Vikas Bamnia, a district-level leader, and the son of Congress MLA Arjun Bamnia said the party was supporting Roat.

“Our stand is clear, we are supporting the BAP candidate. We are working keeping in mind the sentiments of the people and the directions received from the party,” Mr Bamnia said.

Another local Congress leader said, “We are asking people clearly to not vote for the Congress candidate (Damor)” but Damor’s refusal to toe the party line was embarrassing for the Congress. BAP, which was established in southern Rajasthan ahead of the 2023 assembly elections, has three MLAs, including Roat.

Banswara-Dungarpur is a reserved seat for Scheduled Tribes and will go to polls in the second phase of Lok Sabha elections on Friday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had addressed a rally in Banswara on Sunday.

Mr Damor claimed that a faction of the Congress leaders was against the alliance with BAP. “I have support from the people and the party leaders who are not in favour of the alliance. I am confident of winning the election,” Mr Damor said.

Former BJP state president Satish Poonia, who campaigned in the constituency in support of Malviya, said that Congress was nowhere in the scene. “The condition of Congress leaders has become such that when they went to a ‘bhandara’, the ‘prasad’ was over and when they came out, their shoes and slippers were missing,” he said.

The Congress in Rajasthan is contesting the elections as part of an alliance on two seats — Nagaur (with Rashtriya Loktantrik Party) and Sikar (with CPI-M).

(Manas Dasgupta)


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