Jodhpur, April 4 (IANS) The stage is all set for a high-voltage political battle here with the Congress officially fielding Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot's son Vaibhav Gehlot for the forthcoming parliamentary elections against the BJP's Union Minister of State for Agriculture Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, the incumbent MP.
Vaibhav Gehlot has been a Congress worker for the last 15 years. He was born in 1980 when Ashok Gehlot became the MP for the first time.
However, the Chief Minister did not allow his son to contest in 2009 while the party did not give him ticket in 2014.
"I did not allow him to contest the elections as I wanted him to work hard. In 2014, party did not give him ticket. Now, this time, the party has given ticket to him looking at his capability," the Rajasthan Chief Minister said, expressing his happiness with the party high command for finally giving his son a ticket looking at his capability.
"Now, I want him to contest these elections on his own. Vaibhav should fight elections standing firm on his own feet without depending on any one," Gehlot told the media when asked if he would campaign for his son.
"I want my son to become like me," the Chief Minister said.
It is worth recalling that since 1980, Gehlot senior has never lost an election and recently, became the Chief Minister for the third time after the Congress won the 2018 assembly polls. He had earlier served from 1999 to 2003 and from 2008 to 2013.
Meanwhile, his BJP rival Shekhawat feels that Jodhpur has now become "the most talked about".
"This seat has become the most talked about seat in the country with Vaibhav being pitched in," he said, adding: "The seat will be retained by the BJP come what may."
One thing is for sure - it's not going to be easy for either of the two candidates.
While Vaibhav banks on the huge political lineage of his father, who represented Jodhpur as a five-time MP from 1980 to 1999 till he became the Chief Minister for the first time, Shekhawat is relying on strong support the from Rajput vote bank.
As Jodhpur is essentially a Rajput-dominated constituency, Vaibhav faces tough competition ahead with Shekhawat enjoying an equally strong following.
Shekhawat had won by a huge margin of 410,051 votes in 2014.
A trusted aide of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah, sources said that putting their trust in Shekhawat, the duo wanted to appoint him the state BJP president in March 2018 soon after the party lost all three seats in by-polls Ajmer, Alwar and Mandalgarh seats. However the then Chief Minister, Vasundhara Raje, strongly objected to the move.
Jodhpur has eight assembly constituencies - Falodi, Lohavat, Shergarh, Sardarpura, Sheor, Sursagar, Puni and Pokhran. The Congress has six MLAs, while the BJP has two.
The Congress has won the Jodhpur seat eight times, while the BJP has won it on four occasions.
Thirteen of Rajasthan's 25 constituencies, including Jodhpur, will vote in the fourth phase on April 29, while the remaining 12 will vote in the fifth phase on May 6.
The day of reckoning will be on May 23 - like in the rest of the country.