By Archana Sharma
Jodhpur, April 26 (IANS) Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, who is going all out to ensure his son Vaibhav Gehlot’s win from the Jodhpur parliamentary seat, has been branded “Dhritrashtra” by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Vaibhav Gehlot, 39, is making his debut as a Congress candidate against sitting BJP MP and Union Minister of State for Agriculture Gajendra Singh Shekhawat. With no political standing of his own, Vaibhav Gehlot is banking on his father’s legacy to garner votes in Jodhpur, considered Ashok Gehlot’s home turf.
But with bookies in Phalodi betting big on the BJP’s win here, his father too is leaving nothing to chance. Not only has he pushed the entire state machinery into creating a support base for Vaibhav Gehlot, since Friday he himself has started making door-to-door visits in the constituency.
Congress sources told IANS: “Since April 21, Gehlot has been camping in Jodhpur and reaching out to people via bulk SMSes requesting them to vote for his son.
One of his messages reads: “Friends, Congress candidate Vaibhav Gehlot needs your blessings and votes. Although I could not meet you in person, I request you to vote for Vaibhav to ensure his victory. Ashok Gehlot.”
Another message reads: “I apologise if I could not meet any of you due to work pressure but this election is not for Vaibhav or Ashok Gehlot. It is to save democracy. Ashok Gehlot.”
Not just the Chief Minister, his media team also seems equally engaged with voters on the social media and WhatsApp. Congress sources said that the Chief Minister has also invited Congress President Rahul Gandhi and party General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi for a roadshow but there’s no confirmation yet.
“Just like Dhritrashtra, the Chief Minister seems to have gone blind in his son’s love. He is camping in Jodhpur leaving aside all work,” said former BJP MLA Rao Rajendra Singh.
Shekhawat too has been invoking the Mahabharata in his rallies. “Like the two sides in the battle of Kurukshetra, we have our own Pandavas – who followed dharma and had Lord Krishna’s blessings and Kauravas – the adharma-following sons of Dhritrashtra, who was blinded by the love for them.”
Former BJP Minister Arun Chaturvedi said: “Jodhpur is a prestige battle for Gehlot, who has put the entire state machinery behind Vaibhav. But the Modi factor will overpower everything.”
“Shekhawat is fluent in the local dialect and knows how to win the hearts of the locals. Vaibhav, on the other hand, is naive and needs grooming. He has failed to impress even the youth,” Chaturvedi explained.
A Congress leader too confirmed that significant communities from Jodhpur including Jats, Bishnois and even Malis, which Gehlot belongs to, were not very happy with him.
The Jats and Bishnois want to teach a lesson to Gehlot, who ended their political clout by sending Congress Minister Mahipal Maderna and Congress MLA Malkhan Singh Bishnoi to jail in the Bhanwari Devi case seven years ago. The two leaders are still in prison. Mahipal Maderna is the son of 9-time MLA Parasram Maderna.
He added that the Chief Minister did try to appease the two communities by getting Haryana-based Jat and Bishnoi leaders Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Kuldeep Bishnoi to campaign for his son.
The high-stakes seat has already witnessed a rally by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and will see a grand roadshow by BJP President Amit Shah on April 26, three days before the polling on April 29.
(Archana Sharma can be reached at [email protected])