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Lok Sabha polls: Minister hopes climate won’t change here

Published:

Campaigning for

Lok Sabha elections

has pitchforked

Bhupender Yadav

, Union environment minister, BJP’s key organisation man and backroom strategist, to the frontlines in Rajasthan’s

Alwar constituency

, known as much for lakes, Neemrana and Sariska’s tigers as it is for factories turning out cars, tractors and liquor.
Less than 10 days from the first phase of polling — also his debut as a Lok Sabha candidate — Bhupender addresses close to 40 corner meetings a day, diving into Bhiwadi’s industrial townships and their neighbourhood villages.

At every pit stop, he begins by highlighting

Modi govt

’s assertive decision-making, citing Ram Mandir construction and abrogation of Article 370 as examples. He quickly moves on to the region’s water crisis, telling the motley crowds in housing societies and temple complexes that his development agenda for east Rajasthan’s industrial hub will marry PM Modi’s vision of ‘Viksit Bharat’.
“Drinking water supply and waste water disposal are crucial issues affecting this area. Congress’s corrupt regime of the last five years (Ashok Gehlot-led Cong govt) did not allow the Union govt’s Jal Shakti Mission to be implemented. I will work with Centre and state govts of Haryana and Rajasthan to resolve this,” Bhupender says.

Untitled design (76)

At the western end of Alwar constituency, in Rajgarh-Lakshmangarh, Congress’s Mundawar legislator and now its LS candidate, Lalit Yadav, addresses similar public meetings in largely rural settings. He stresses his local connect while branding Bhupender an “outsider” from Haryana.
Addressing swathes of farmers and local youths in an assembly segment that has remained loyal to Congress over the past two decades, the 34-year-old arts graduate accuses Bhupender of making hollow claims. The detailed project report of the plan to lay water pipelines between Haryana and Rajasthan, Lalit claims, does not exist.

He also plays on the caste arithmetic, telling his audience that Bhupender didn’t support the region’s demand for the Ahir Regiment in the Army (locals had blocked the Delhi-Gurgaon highway in Feb 2022 to press for it). Alwar is dominated by Ahirs (synonymous with Yadavs), who displayed their valour in the battle of Rezang La (1962). They count Rao Tula Ram, one of the heroes of 1857, among their own.
With just over a week remaining for polling day, campaigning is at fever pitch. Both sides are treating it as a prestige battle. Former Alwar MP and now Tijara MLA, Mahant Balak Nath, accompanies Bhupender around town to quell rumours he’s unhappy at being denied a ticket. Rajasthan chief minister Bhajan Lal Sharma and his deputy Diya Kumari will also throw in their weight behind Bhupender, as will Home minister Amit Shah, who is scheduled to campaign for him on April 13. BJP believes Shah’s rally will bump up its already bright prospects.
Lalit’s campaign may be short onresources, but it has also drawn INDIA bloc’s star campaigners. Sachin Pilot addressed a large rally in his support in Kishangarh Bas on Monday, while SP chief Akhilesh Yadav and Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra are expected to follow suit.
BSP’s Fazal Hussain could spoil Lalit’s chances, although he is considered a distant third in the race.

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