Congress is running an anti-own candidate campaign in Rajasthan's Banswara Lok Sabha seat.

A peculiar political situation is playing out in Rajasthan's tribal-dominated Lok Sabha constituency of Banswara-Dungarpur, where the Congress is urging voters not to back its own candidate because of its alliance with the Bharat Adivasi Party (BAP). Arvind Damor, a congressional candidate, refuses to get out despite the partnership, making it a three-way race. Mahendrajit Singh Malviya, the BJP candidate, is in a favorable condition.

Apr 24, 2024 - 14:21
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Congress is running an anti-own candidate campaign in Rajasthan's Banswara Lok Sabha seat.

An unusual election struggle is anticipated in the Lok Sabha seat of Banswara-Dungarpur, Rajasthan, where the tribal majority is represented by the Congress, which is pleading with voters not to endorse its nominee.

The rationale: Following considerable back-and-forth, the Congress chose to join forces with the Bharat Adivasi Party (BAP), and the two parties put Rajkumar Roat forth as their joint candidate. Arvind Damor, the Congress candidate, has declined to rescind his nomination despite having his name revealed prior to the alliance's formation.

What was anticipated to be a two-way race between the BJP and the Congress-BAP coalition has become a three-way race, with Damor possibly splitting the Congress votes and favoring Mahendrajit Singh Malviya, the candidate of the saffron party.

Although the Congress leadership in the area has urged voters to choose Roat over their own candidate, Damor has asserted that he has the backing of some party leaders who are opposed to the cooperation with the BAP.

The party is backing Roat, according to district-level official Vikas Bamnia, who is the son of Congress MLA Arjun Bamnia.

"We have made it known that we support the BAP candidate. We are working with the party's directives and the opinions of the people in mind," Bamnia stated.

Roat is the official candidate of the Congress-BAP partnership, according to a local Congress senior.

"We are asking people clearly to not vote for the Congress candidate (Damor)," added the president.

Some locals felt that Damor's unwillingness to follow the party line was embarrassing for the Congress, even though several told PTI that Malviya and Roat were the main contenders.

Roat is one of the three MLAs for the BAP, which was founded in southern Rajasthan prior to the 2023 assembly elections.

In the second round of the Lok Sabha elections, scheduled tribes will get the opportunity to vote in Banswara-Dungarpur on Friday.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke at a rally in this location.

Criticizing the Congress manifesto, he had claimed the opposition party intended to distribute hard-earned public funds to "those who have more children" and "infiltrators." He also cited former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's 2006 speech, claiming he had stated that Muslims have the "first claim" to the nation's resources.

During his campaign speeches, Malviya accused Roat of misleading the Banswara people, while the Congress-BAP candidate accused him of fracturing the tribal community.

"Where are our tribal brothers and sisters going to be taken by these people? The tribe is being misled by them. Malviya, who became a member of the BJP prior to the Lok Sabha elections, stated that constructing a home for a single individual does not serve the community as a whole.

"The goal of these individuals is to disperse chaos. Despite their best efforts, the BJP will secure lakhs of votes to win this seat. The Congress-BAP coalition will not succeed. It just demonstrates that there was no candidate selected by the Congress for the Banswara-Dungarpur seat," he continued.

Raot retorted that the BJP candidate was mistreating and "dividing" the tribal people.

"With the remarks Malviya is making, he is mistreating the indigenous group. The tribal community is being polarized by the BJP. Regardless of which party our tribal people identify with—the BJP or the Congress—it is our duty to bring them together. We think for the indigenous people, not the party," he declared.

Meanwhile, Damor said that several Congress leaders were opposed to the partnership with the BAP.

"Those who oppose the coalition, including officials of the party, back me. "I have no doubts about winning the election," declared Damor.

Some non-tribal residents claim that amid the competition, important issues like jobs, roads, energy, and education have been sidelined as each contender tries to outdo the other in order to portray himself as the champion of the tribal community.

"The region lacks employment prospects and industries. Many residents of this area are employed in Gujarat, a nearby state. Large numbers of women are also observed working on farms and in manual labor," a non-tribal local resident remarked.

The extreme nature of BAP's ideology suggests that it may pose a concern in the future. In the name of the community, issues are becoming less significant and polarizing individuals," he continued.

Meanwhile, Malviya, a satrap from the Vagad region, joined the BJP, forcing the Congress to look for an alliance partner in Banswara-Dungarpur.

After Congress lost the 2023 assembly elections, Malviya—who had twice been appointed to the cabinet in previous Congress governments—resigned from the party. She had been denied the role of Leader of Opposition in the state parliament.

In February, he announced his resignation as the Bagidora assembly constituency MLA and joined the BJP.

The BAP, a recently formed party in the Vagad region, and the Congress were in talks to form an alliance. However, the coalition's finalization was delayed due to disagreements over seat sharing and opposition from certain local Congress officials.

The Congress chose to field Damor from Banswara-Dungarpur and Kapoor Singh from Bagidora for the bypoll on the final day of nomination filing.

Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, the chief of the Rajasthan Congress, declared on social media a day prior to the withdrawal of nominations that the party would back the BAP in both polls.

But to the Congress's painful surprise, both of its nominees declined to renounce their candidacies.

The Banswara-Dungarpur Lok Sabha seat has eight assembly segments, of which the BJP has four MLAs, the Congress has three, and the BAP has one. In Rajasthan, the Congress is running for two seats in an alliance with the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party in Nagaur and the CPI-M in Sikar.

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