Thursday, Nov 27, 2003
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By Gargi Parsai
In the fray here is the sitting MLA, Bhanwar Jitendra Singh, the scion of the Alwar royal family. Challenging him is a first-timer, Pushpa Gupta, a nominee of Mr. Togadia. But what has made the contest interesting is the presence of Mr. Singh's sister, Meenakshi (Ind), who is now backed by the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD).
The Superintendent of Police, Khargawat, told The Hindu that the administration had deployed one company each of the Border Security Force, the Central and Industrial Security Force, the Railway Protection Force and two companies of the Punjab police commandos, apart from the local police force.
He said they staged a flag march to instil a sense of confidence in the people about law and order. It was just a coincidence that the march happened before the Id festival.
In the 1998 Assembly elections, 35-year-old Jitendra Singh had his mother, "Yuvrani" Mahendra Kumari, criss-crossing the constituency seeking votes for him. The Yuvrani herself had represented Alwar in the Lok Sabha. Today she is no more and the heir to the Alwar royalty misses her. Mr. Singh's eyes turned moist as he said, "I miss her all the time, not only during this election.''
Asked why his younger sister was opposing him he simply said, "I don't know. Even I am surprised.'' While there are murmurs of a property dispute after the passing away of Mahendra Kumari, Mr. Singh denied it.
Asked why she was contesting against her brother, Ms. Meenakshi said she was not against her brother but was in the fray as the people of Alwar wished it.
On whether she had not cut into Mr. Singh's votes, she said, "But there are so many other parties doing that.''
The Rajputs and Jats are unimpressed because of her runaway marriage. She might swing a few votes, but Mr. Singh is considered sound because of his personal image and accessibility.
As a BJP candidate, Pushpa Gupta, will retain a majority of the Brahmin and Bania city votes but had there been a familiar candidate the BJP's challenge would have been serious. The Bahujan Ssamaj Party candidate, Rajkumar Advani, would nibble into Mr. Singh's votes in a few villages.
There is simmering discontent against the Congress among government employees for the cut in bonus and the alleged `corruption' in the transfers of officials in districts (palti, as it is called here). There are others who are angry at the increase in power tariff without hampering the period of availability.
Mr. Singh had won this seat in 1998. He said he wanted to win by a record margin this time. That may not be so, but the Alwar seat is safe for the Congress.
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