JAIPUR: Mewar, historically famous for the battle of Haldighati, also plays a vital role in the battle for ballots in Rajasthan. Mewar’s 28 seats are considered crucial, as the party that dominates here ends up forming the government. In fact, three CMs Mohan Lal Sukhadia, Haridev Joshi and Heeralal Devpura belong to Mewar.
Hence, for the last several elections, the BJP and the Congress have begun their campaigns from one of the six districts of Mewar, i.e. Udaipur, Dungarpur, Banswara, Pratpgrah, Chittorgrah or Rajasamand.
In 2013, Congress president Rahul Gandhi launched Rajasthan’s poll campaign with a tribal rally at Salumber in Udaipur district and a month later, the BJP’s then prime ministerial face, Narendra Modi, held a big rally in Udaipur that set the tone for the Assembly elections held two months later.
As a prominent BJP leader from the region says, “The whole state is important, but we can say that Mewar makes the government”.
A quick look at past statistics shows that there is substance in this claim. In 2008, when the Congress last formed a government, the party won 20 of the 28 seats in Mewar. In 2013, the BJP got 25 of the 28 seats here and Vasundhara Raje formed the government with a huge majority.
Earlier, the Congress worked for education and women’s empowerment in Mewar, but at some stage this process slowed down and gave the BJP and the RSS a chance to make their mark.
The Sangh-supported Vanvasi Kalyan Parishad that has been running several schools and hostels for tribal students has strengthened the BJP support base here. In the Lok Sabha, Assembly, municipal and Panchayat elections, the BJP holds over 1,100 of the total 1,900 seats in Mewar region which is nearly 60 per cent of the MPs, MLAs and panchayat-cum-municipal functionaries !
Out of 28 seats, 17 seats are ST-dominated, that’s why tribal MLA’s Nandlal Meena, Sushil Katara and Dhan Singh Rawat were accommodated as ministers in the Vasundhra Raje cabinet.
No wonder, BJP election in charge Prakash Javadekar says it is difficult to challenge the BJP on the grassroot level. “We have done significantly well in Mewar earlier, and this time we will score a record victory on the basis of our work,” he said.
However, the Congress argues that changes made by the BJP in reservation rules under the Tribal Sub Plan have made tribals angry. According to Congress’ chief spokesperson Archna Sharma, “People have understood the way this government is trying to divide society and they will have to pay a price in the elections.”
However, the people of this tribal region that borders Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh complain that despite being a key constituency, ‘development’ has bypassed Mewar. In addition, the weakening of the MGNREGA programme and food security schemes have upset most tribals who continue to wait for the day when parties will bring about real progress in the lush green but poor region of Mewar!