Congress launches its campaign with farmers’ rallies in two district
The ruling Congress in Rajasthan on Saturday launched its campaign for bypolls to four Assembly seats with farmers’ rallies in two districts, where the party leadership tried to put up a united face. Both Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Tonk MLA Sachin Pilot, who was sacked as the Deputy CM last year, addressed the large gatherings of farmers.
Mr. Gehlot and his former deputy shared a helicopter ride from Jaipur to the two villages in Bikaner and Chittorgarh districts for the first time in more than a year. Mr. Pilot, who had staged a rebellion in July last year, has been addressing huge ‘kisan mahapanchayats’ along with the MLAs of his camp in the eastern Rajasthan region.
The two leaders came together apparently at the instance of the party’s top leadership, besides the political necessity in which Mr. Pilot could not be sidelined any more in the run-up to the bypolls. AICC general secretary in-charge of Rajasthan, Ajay Maken, who flew along with Mr. Gehlot and Mr. Pilot, shared their picture on social media platforms.
The by-elections are to be held in Sujangarh (Churu), Sahara (Bhilwara), Vallabhnagar (Udaipur) and Rajsamand, where the sitting MLAs died in the last four months. Three of these seats were with the Congress, while the Rajsamand constituency was represented by BJP leader Kiran Maheshwari. The dates for the bypolls are yet to be announced.
The venues for Saturday’s rallies were selected strategically at Sridungargarh in Bikaner and Matrikundiya in Chittorgarh district. Sridungargarh is situated close to Sujangarh, while Matrikundiya is located in the vicinity of the three other constituencies. Sahara and Rajsamand have a significant presence of Gujjars, the community to which Mr. Pilot belongs.
Both Mr. Gehlot and Mr. Pilot were seen together during Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s two-day visit to the State recently. Among the deceased MLAs, Gajendra Singh Shaktawat (Vallabhnagar) and Bhanwarlal Meghwal (Sujangarh) were considered Mr. Pilot’s supporters.
The two leaders shared the stage at the rallies with Mr. Maken, Pradesh Congress Committee president Govind Singh Dotasra, Ministers and senior party leaders. Mr. Gehlot said the BJP-led government at the Centre was stubborn on the agriculture sector laws and was not willing to listen to the farmers sitting on protest near the Delhi borders in extreme weather conditions for the last 90 days.
While Mr. Gehlot said the voters’ support to the Congress candidates would strengthen the State government and speed up development works, Mr. Pilot said the Congress would continue to support the farmers’ demands until the farm laws were repealed. “We passed the Bills on the subject in the State Assembly, but the Governor is withholding them and not sending [them] for Presidential assent.”
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