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Posted at: Apr 26, 2019, 7:47 AM; last updated: Apr 26, 2019, 7:47 AM (IST)

In Jodhpur, CM Gehlot’s son slogs to scale the Modi wall

In Jodhpur, CM Gehlot’s son slogs to scale the Modi wall
Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot’s son and Congress candidate from Jodhpur seat Vaibhav Gehlot files his nomination papers. PTI file

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

Jodhpur, April 25

Jodhpur parliamentary constituency is readying for a nail biting election this season with Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot pulling all stops for son Vaibhav, the Congress nominee, and rival BJP matching him every step of the way.

“Nothing can be said of the outcomes. It’s a strong fight,” says Naresh Kumar, a local vendor who has seen the 2019 Lok Sabha campaign in Jodhpur peak like never before.

PM Narendra Modi held his maiden poll rally here earlier this week drawing impressive crowds that held out hopes of a re-election for sitting BJP MP and minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat. 

CM Gehlot for his part continues to spend days in the segment canvassing for his son, a debutant. CM’s all pervasive presence coupled with that of state officials in Jodhpur has got the goat of BJP with PM Modi recently attacking Gehlot for making the fight so personal.

“The CM is running from street to street trying to save his son,” Modi told the crowds at his Jodhpur rally inviting a terse rebuttal from Gehlot who said, “Which father would not slog for his son? But how would Modi know? He doesn’t even have a family!”

The two rivals in the fray are, meanwhile, rallying voters in their own unique ways. While Vaibhav, 38, is heard assuring people, “I will stand for Jodhpur and never let your honour and pride be compromised,” Shekhawat is harping on the “nationalism as the only issue”.

Locals say they are faced with Hobson’s choice this time. “We want Narendra Modi to be the PM but also want CM’s son to win from Jodhpur. It’s a tough choice for us,” says local trader Pankaj Birla.

The Congress appears to be riding Gehlot’s personal connect with the people considering Jodhpur has been his political workspace for years. 

This old connection resonates with some people here. “Modi will win the centre but Vaibhav Gehlot will win in Jodhpur,” auto driver Irshad Ali says admitting that caste equations also favour the Congress in the area.

Ali, however, has competition when it comes to announcing poll results. 

A bunch of other local transporters led by Sunny Kumar say Modi is the “lion of India” and “he will win.”

It’s almost as if Modi and not Shekhawat is contesting the election. The sitting MP attempts to get into the narrative every once and again as he tells election rallies, “This fight is between a CM’s son and a commoner’s son.”

Faced with a tough call, many locals say they don’t want to make any guesses.

An old timer from the dirt who has seen several elections in Jodhpur attempts to articulate the larger sense when he says: “Marwaris are known to keep their interests ahead of everything else. If they think as Marwaris they will elect Vaibhav Gehlot because his presence will be beneficial for Jodhpur, his father being the CM. If they think beyond caste, they will vote for Narendra Modi. Whatever be the result, one thing is clear. Vaibhav Gehlot will have to work very hard to scale the Modi wall in Jodhpur.”

Jodhpur is among 13 Rajasthan segments that votes on April 29.

High-stakes battle in Rajput land

  • For Ashok Gehlot, the stakes in Jodhpur are the highest among all 25 LS seats in Rajasthan. Himself a five-time MP from Jodhpur and currently a sitting MLA from Sardarpura here, Gehlot faces the challenge of establishing his son. He’s heard playing on people’s emotions to see Vaibhav through
  • The BJP on the other hand is flagging nationalism and riding high on the image of Modi, who is urging voters “defeat dynasties”. “The fight in Jodhpur is between Gehlot’s son Vaibhav on one side and nation’s “vaibhav” on the other,” says BJP vice-president and Rajasthan in charge Avinash Rai Khanna 

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