JAIPUR: An interesting electoral combat is on the cards in Rajasthan's Jaipur Rural constituency where two Olympians -- BJP's Col Rajyavardhan Rathore and Congress's Krishna Poonia -- will face each other in the Lok Sabha polls.
Olympian-turned-politician Rathore, who is the Union Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting, had won the seat in the 2014 elections and the party has reposed faith in him again while the Congress fielded sitting MLA Poonia to contest against the former Army officer.
For Poonia, this election is a "fight of two ideologies". She said she will be fighting the elections on the basis of issues related to the common man. "It is okay that we are athletes but this is the fight of two ideologies. The 2014 Lok Sabha election was fought in the name of (Narendra) Modi only. False promises were made and the time was just passed in 'Jumlebazi'. I come from a simple farmers' family and the issues which are related with the common man will be my issues in the elections," Poonia said.
"This election is for the protection of democracy. Every section, be it youths, women or farmers, wants development and issue-based politics and not just 'jumla' (rhetoric). Farmers want right price for their crops and youths to want employment. I will be contesting the polls on all such issues which impact a common man," she said.
The 41-year-old Poonia, who represents Churu district's Sadulpur assembly seat, was named the Congress candidate from Jaipur Rural Lok Sabha seat on Monday and she will now start campaigning in the constituency. The constituency mostly spread in rural areas is already abuzz with the campaign by Rathore who made his electoral debut by winning the seat in 2014 with a margin of 3,32,896 votes.
He is busy meeting people of his constituency and highlighting the achievements of the Modi government with latest being India's demonstration of the capacity to shoot down a satellite in space.
"People have seen the work done by the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Development work done in the last five years is much more than what was done in 50 years," he said during his campaign Wednesday.
"I remained in regular touch with the people of my constituency and allotted fund for development work in all gram panchayats, wards, without any bias and discrimination," a release quoted him as having said during campaigning in Kotputali area.
He said his team of workers was his strength. Rathore, 49, who has been a celebrated double-trap shooter, focusses on encouraging youths for participating in sports activities and says this has received a good response from parents also.
He also connects with people through social media, uploads videos of campaigning on the Facebook page and communicates through Facebook live.
"Many parents tell me that their children earlier used to waste time but now an atmosphere of sports has been created all over and a spirit of sports is there among the youths. They are now running and preparing for Army recruitment," he said in such a video on the Facebook page.
He is also highlighting Centre's schemes and programmes such as Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojna, Ayushman Bharat Yojna during his political meetings, besides targeting the Congress.
Rathore was a colonel in the Army and took voluntary retirement and joined the BJP in 2013 whereas Padma Shri awardee and discus thrower Krishna Poonia, who won gold medal in 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games and also participated in the Olympic Games for three times, joined the Congress the same year and contested the 2013 assembly elections, but lost.
The Jaipur Rural Lok Sabha seat, which has 19.33 lakh electorates, 9.12 lakh of them female, is dominated by the Jat community, followed by Brahmin, Yadav and SC voters.
The caste equation is favourable for Poonia who belongs to the Jat community.
Of the eight assembly segments in the Lok Sabha constituency, the ruling Congress has 5 seats, two are with the BJP and one is with an Independent MLA.
During the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP had 5 seats while the Congress had two assembly seats falling under the Jaipur Rural constituency.
Rajasthan, which has 25 Lok Sabha seats, goes to polls in two phases on April 29 and May 6. The Jaipur Rural is among the 12 Lok Sabha seats which go to polls in the second phase.