Rajasthan: political history
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Rajasthan MLAs fear assembly is 'haunted'
Legislators in Rajasthan believe that the House never retains its maximum strength of 200 members for long.
They have blamed the‘evil spirits’ for member resignations, arrests and untimely death.
Some of the lawmakers have even shared their fears with CM Raje & urged her to call priests to pacify the ‘buri aatma’.
Call it superstition or the fear of death. Legislators in the state are beginning to suspect that the Rajasthan assembly is haunted by spirits. The lawmakers believe that the House never retains its maximum strength of 200 members for long, either because one or the other member resigns, goes to jail or has an untimely death. And they blame it on ‘evil spirits’.
In fact, some of them have even shared their fears with chief minister Vasundhara Raje and urged her to call priests or clerics to pacify the ‘buri aatma’. A priest was spotted performing rituals near the assembly’s entrance on Thursday.
The demise of sitting BJP MLA from Singh Chouhan on Tuesday night has revived the belief and the fears of legislators who have been demanding measures to control the supernatural.
Last year, BJP MLA from Mandalgarh Kirti Kumari had succumbed to swine flu. Before that, BSP MLA B L Kushwah was jailed for murder. In the last assembly, Congress MLAs Mahipal Maderna, Malkhan Singh Bishnoi and Babu Lal Nagar were jailed on charges like murder and rape.
And yet, the superstitious MLAs fear all this is happening because the assembly building has been built by covering part of a cremation ground. Barely 200 metres from the building there still stands the Lal Kothi Moksh Dham (cremation ground).
The present assembly building, which is spread over nearly 17 acres and located close to the SMS Stadium, was built between November 1994 and March 2001. Before that, the state assembly was housed in the old city’s Sawai Man Singh Town Hall that was built around 1884.
BJP MLA from Nagaur Habibur Rahman said, “The land over which the new building has been built was earlier used as a graveyard or for cremation and garbage ground where god knows what all used to be dumped. People must have buried bodies of children too here. Evil spirits usually roam around such places.”
The five-term MLA, who has been a minister too, said he was part of the committee that surveyed the land when the then CM Bhairon Singh Shekhawat sanctioned Rs 5 crore to build the new assembly building here. “To address my concerns about it being a graveyard/cremation land, they got some temples built in the vicinity,” Rahman said.
“When madam (Raje) asked us yesterday (Wednesday) why is this happening (untimely deaths of Chouhan and Kumari), I told her about this place’s past. I suggested that ‘yajna’ be performed or a ‘maulana’ be called to purify the place. It is in our culture. If we build at some wrong place, we can be freed through prayers and offerings,” he added.
Government chief whip Kalu Lal Gurjar said, “It’s true this assembly building has not had a full strength of 200 members for long. The untimely deaths of MLAs Chouhan and Kumari have worried us and we cannot help but think about the graveyard/cremation ground that was here. I believe that spirits can do bad. We spoke to the CM and she has assured us to do something about it.”
Allotting land to caste groups
With assembly elections in Rajasthan just about a year away , the Vasundhra Raje government has cleared the proposal to allot land to various castes and communities at concessional rates. These allotments were initially made by the Congress government in 2013 just ahead of the last assembly elections but were cancelled by the state government under Raje saying they were “misuse of public land“.
The Congress government had allotted 61 plots of land in various cities in the state for community purposes at just five 5% of the land cost. The BJP government, however, said it was yet to decide the rate at which the land will be re-allotted.
The current state cabinet's decision to take a Uturn on its earlier stand and give a green signal for caste-based land allotment has come close on the heels of giving nod to the luxury residential complex, Palacia, after cancelling it initially.
“The cabinet has decided to allot land to various castes and communities.We have been receiving demands from these sections for a long time,“ urban development and housing (UDH) minister Shrichand Kriplani said.
A senior UDF official said, of 61 allotments, most (35) will be made in Kota district. “We will provide land to various organisations at six locations in Jaipur,“ he said.
The fall in BJP’s vote share in the bypolls for one assembly and two Lok Sabha seats in Rajasthan, where it received a drubbing by Congress, ranged between 21% and 12%, signalling an uphill battle for CM Vasundhara Raje as the state heads for polls later this year.
The biggest fall in vote share was in the Alwar parliamentary constituency, where BJP’s vote share dropped from 61% in 2014 to 40%. In the Ajmer parliamentary seat, BJP’s vote share dropped from 56% to 44%. In the Mandalgarh assembly seat, BJP’s vote share nosedived from 52% in 2013 to 32% now.
Anger among Meos on account of Pehlu Khan’s lynching by alleged cow vigilantes was one of the factors for Congress’s surge in vote share in Alwar.
Rajasthan relaxes two-child policy for govt staff
The Rajasthan Cabinet, in a meeting chaired by CM Vasundhara Raje, relaxed the two-child policy for state government employees, deleting the clause entailing compulsory retirement on birth of the third child.
The state goes to polls in 2018 to elect a new assembly.
The Cabinet has given permission for amendments in pension laws and other such norms in this context, parliamentary affairs minister Rajendra Rathore said. He said 13 proposals for investment of Rs 6,000 crore in the state were approved, adding the projects will generate thousands of jobs.
Rift in BJP widens, party’s Muslim face quits
The rift in BJP over ticket distribution widened, with party’s Muslim face in Rajasthan, Habib Ur Rehman, quitting after being denied ticket. The denial of ticket to any Muslim candidate left BJP state Minority Morcha running for cover. The Morcha has sought 10-12 seats, like Puskhar, Kaman, Tijara, Deedwana, Nagaur, Aadarsh Nagar, Mandawa, Kota North, Tonk, Barmer and Jaisalmer and Sikar, for Muslim candidates.
In 2013, two Muslim candidates – including Rehman — won elections on BJP tickets. This time, Rehman was replaced by Mohanram Chaudhary following BJP’s insistence, sources said. Rehman, the MLA from Muslim-dominated Nagaur Assembly seat, is likely to join Congress. Miffed over being denied tickets, supporters of at least 20 leaders protested outside the state BJP headquarters in Jaipur and party’s district offices. Supporters of Chandrakanta Meghwal, who was denied ticket from Ramganj Mandi in Kota, protested in Jaipur. Barmer Urban Improvement Trust chairperson and BJP leader Priyanka Chaudhary also resigned from her post.
Cong wins by-poll in Ramgarh, takes tally to 100
With its candidate Shafia Zubair’s victory in Ramgarh with a margin of 12,228 votes, Congress on Thursday improved its tally to 100 in the Rajasthan assembly, though it still remains one short of full majority.
“People have made up their mind against the BJP government and even if the NDA promises to lay roads in gold in the Budget on Friday, it will have no impact. The bypolls generally reflect the mood of the people and the win shows their faith in the Congress party ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha polls,” said chief minister Ashok Gehlot. Zubair secured 83,311 votes
(44.8%), while her nearest BJP rival Sukhwant Singh got 71,083 votes (38.20%).
Former Union minister Natwar Singh’s son Jagat Singh of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) finished third with 24,856 votes (13.4%). Nota polled 241 votes in Ramgarh, including one from a postal ballot. The result can also be seen as a strong message to the BJP in Ramgarh following the alleged lynching of Rakbar Khan by cow vigilantes. BJP candidates could not open their account in four polling booths in Ramgarh.
“It was the first election after the government’s formation and the result is an indication that BJP has lost the support they had,” said deputy CM Sachin Pilot.
The NDA not only retained all 25 Lok Sabha seats in Rajasthan but the BJP saw its vote share increase by four percentage points, from 54.5% in 2014 to 58.5% in 2019. This time, one seat was won by saffron ally Hanuman Beniwal’s RLTP.
It was Modi all the way, the state giving BJP 58.5% vote share in the Lok Sabha election, a sharp 20 percentage points increase from the 38.8% vote share it gave the state’s Vasundhara Raje government in the December 2018 assembly election when it was defeated by Congress. If the December results reflected their rejection of the state leadership, the Lok Sabha results echoed their faith in Modi.
In December, BJP won 73 of the 200-seat assembly but recorded a lead in 185 assembly segments in the general election. The Congress, which had hoped to wrest a few following its winning the assembly election barely 6 months ago, could not exploit its wins and saw its 2019 Lok Sabha poll vote share increase by a mere 1.6 percentage points over its 2014 figure.
In December’s assembly election, Congress won a vote share of 39.3%.
BJP insiders concede that in December the cadre was divided. “Our own party workers were divided in three groups in December – the silent ones, the R S S supporters and ones in Vasundhara Raje’s camp. Only the Raje camp was active,’’ said a party member.
That, he says, changed after the assembly election when R S S swung into action, proactively campaigning in all 25 constituencies, and focusing on 12 seats including Barmer, Nagaur, Jodhpur, Jaipur Rural among others.