Battle of Tonk: Why BJP’s last-minute switch could prove decisive for Congress’ CM hopeful Sachin Pilot

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Updated: January 10, 2019 8:40:21 PM

It will be a battle of prestige for Congress and BJP as CM hopeful Sachin Pilot will face off against BJP's Yoonus Khan in the Muslim-dominated Tonk constituency in the Rajasthan Assembly Elections 2018.

sachin pilot, sachin pilot ashok gehlot, ashok gehlot sachin pilot, sachin pilot tonk constituency, ASHOK GEHLOT, rajasthan assembly election 2018While Pilot is Congress state chief for Rajasthan, Khan is BJP?s lone Muslim pick in the election and a cabinet minister in the current Vasundhara Raje government.

It will be a battle of prestige for Congress and BJP as CM hopeful Sachin Pilot will face off against BJP’s Yoonus Khan in the Muslim-dominated Tonk constituency in the upcoming assembly elections in Rajasthan. While Pilot is Congress state chief for Rajasthan, Khan is BJP’s lone Muslim pick in the election and a cabinet minister in the current Vasundhara Raje government.

BJP’s decision to pit Khan from Tonk came only after Congress announced Pilot’s name for the seat. Earlier, the saffron party had announced sitting MLA Ajit Singh Mehta as its candidate from here. Khan, the sitting MLA from Deedwana constituency, holds the office of state transport minister and is considered as the top aide of CM Vasundhara Raje.

Khan’s name was included in the fifth list of six candidates for the upcoming elections. The saffron party dropped Mehta and Shankarlal Kharadi from Tonk and Kherwara constituencies respectively. The party fielded Nanala Aahri from Kerwara seat.

Winning the seat is extremely crucial for Sachin Pilot. Both, Pilot and former CM Ashok Gehlot have thrown in their hats in the ring in the race for the CM’s post. Ending months of speculations last week, Gehlot had announced, “Both me and Sachin Pilot will be contesting the Assembly elections this year.” Pilot came in later, he said, “After the aadesh (order) of Rahul Gandhi ji and the nivedan (request) of Ashok Gehlot ji, I will also be contesting the Assembly elections this year.”

Both leaders contesting the assembly elections means that a decision on the chief minister will be taken after the elections. Gehlot enjoys considerable ground support in the state, however, the age factor does go against him. Pilot is young and belongs to dominant Gujjar community in the state. If Pilot suffers a defeat, he will be out of the CM race straightaway.

The Congress has always banked on Muslim vote bank on the seat. However, with Pilot’s the party had fielded a non-Muslim candidate from the seat after a gap of 46 years. As per a Hindustan Times report, 40,000-50,000 out of total 2,00,000 voters in the constituency. A Muslim candidate from the BJP may lead to cross voting and prove fatal for Pilot here.

Congress has fielded a non-Muslim candidate from the seat after a gap of 46 years. As per a Hindustan Times report, 40,000-50,000 out of total 2,00,000 voters in the constituency.

Pilot had earlier won the Lok Sabha elections from Dausa in 2004 and from Ajmer in 2009. In 2014, he lost the elections to BJP’s Sanwar Lal Jat. However, he won the seat again in a by-election in 2017 by-election.

Voting for 200 Assembly seats in Rajasthan will take place on December 7 and the counting will be held on December 11.

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