Politics of polarisation will be at peak on two seats – Tijara and Pokaran. From Tijara, Congress has fielded Imran Khan, a muslim candidate against BJP's Baba Balaknath, face of Hindutva in Rajasthan.
From Pokaran it's a battle between minority affairs minister in Congress government Saleh Mohammad and Mahant Pratappuri from BJP. In last elections also, both fought against each other with Saleh Mohammad winning the bout with a thin margin of 872 votes. Saleh Mohammad is son of Gazi Fakeer, who was a big religious leader of Sindhi Muslim community.
People are calling it a battle between Sant and Fakeer. Just over 200 kms from Pakistan border, in Pokhran, where India tested its nuclear capabilities, an interesting battle is brewing.
A Hindu saint Mahant Pratap Puri from BJP is taking on Muslim religious leader Ghazi Fakeer's son Saleh Mohammad, who had won when they grappled in 2018. Both the parties have repeated candidates as the last election was intensely fought.
In 2013, Saleh Mohammad had lost to BJP's Shaitan Singh. Mohammad, however, had won the 2008 elections against the same Shaitan Singh.
Saleh Mohammad is banking heavily on his father Ghazi Fakeer's influence over Sindhi Muslims who dominate this region. Being their religious leader, Fakeer wields great control over his community on either side of the border.
However, death of Fakeer may have impacted the influence.
“BJP is trying to create communal divide in Pokhran. But we will not let this happen. Muslims and Hindus have harmonious relationship and we will win with their combined support,” said Saleh Mohammed.
Mahant Pratap Puri, the chief priest of Barmer's Taratara sect has thousands of followers across Barmer-Jaisalmer region. Coming from a Rajput family, Puri has influence over Rajput voters, who are in sizeable number in this region. A firebrand saint, who models himself on the line of Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, Puri is known to draw people easily on Hindutva agenda.
“Congress is trying to give a communal colour to this electoral tie. But I am here to unite people. I will work towards the welfare of people as I have been doing all these years,” said Puri, who is always seen in his trademark saffron robes.
Political observers believe that Congress has repeated sitting MLA and its minister from Pokaran while BJP has fielded a saint to polarise Hindu votes and further its Hindu agenda in the state.
“When two influential religious leaders fight, agenda of development, drinking water and infrastructure take a backseat.. People are likely to cast their voters on communal ground,” said Rajendra Ratnoo, a political analyst of western Rajasthan.
There are around 2.12 lakh voters in the constituency with Muslim voters around 60,000 and Rajput and Meghwal comprising 90,000. Others including OBCs constitute 62,000. Congress banks on Meghwal- Muslim combination while BJP will try to polarise Hindu votes.
Tijara has become a hot seat with BJP fielding saint of Nath sect Baba Balaknath from this constituency. Balaknath and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, both belong to the sect.The success Yogi in politics has prompted BJP to field more and more saints in elections.
Balaknath, a member of parliament from Alwar will be banking heavily on Hindu votes in a constituency which has large number of Muslim votes specially Meo.
Congress has been fielding Muslim candidate from this seat. In last elections, Congress had fielded Durru Mian from this seat who lost to BSP's Sandeep Yadav, who later joined Congress.
This time Congress has fielded Imran Khan, who got the ticket from BSP in the first list. But BSP cut his ticket after realising that Khan was trying for Congress ticket.
The battle here will be mainly fought on the plank of religion. While Imran Kahn will be banking mainly on Muslim and scheduled cast voters, Baba Balaknath will be focusing on Hindu votes and mainly from Yadav community to which he belongs.
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath's campaigning for him is likely to help him in polarising Hindu votes. Yogi will attend his nomination today.
Ram Kumar Kaushik is a seasoned journalist with over 25 years of experience across mediums. The architect of this news website, he is also a consultant with several media groups. He was formerly the group managing editor of ITV Network (NewsX, India News and The Sunday Guardian) and its digital products.