The Jodhpur stakes

Many think the Congress fielded a novice from the wrong seat when CM Ashok Gehlot’s son, Vaibhav, 39, stood against Narendra Modi-Amit Shah favourite Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, 51, in Jodhpur, which finished polling on April 29. But Gehlot Sr came to his son’s rescue, camping in Jodhpur, inviting the BJP jibe that he addressed more rallies in Jodhpur than in the rest of Rajasthan. The PM called it “a begging for votes for his son”. Gehlot retorted: “Modi has no idea how important a son is to a father.”

Now that polling is over, Sachin Pilot loyalists are hoping Vaibhav loses so that Pilot becomes the CM. Vasundhara Raje’s supporters are wishing a similar fate on Shekhawat, a Rajput whose quick rise in the Rajasthan BJP she and other veteran Rajput leaders opposed. To help Shekhawat, the BJP allied with hardline Jat leader Hanuman Beniwal to attract the Jat vote. They are also hoping that Gehlot’s handing over the Bhanwari Devi case to the CBI in 2011, leading to the arrest of Jat leader Mahipal Maderna and Bishnoi leader Malkhan Singh, will continue to rankle the Jat and Bishnoi voters. But the shrewd Gehlot has since helped kinsmen of these two leaders to launch their own political careers.


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