As the electoral fight between Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) intensifies, the voters in Rajasthan want all political parties to focus on important issues, and not on communal ones.

The Citizen visited Jaipur, Rajasthan’s capital where party offices were gearing up for elections. Scores of posters and hoardings were placed at different junctions in Jaipur. For the people of Jaipur, however, political parties need to step up and do more for the people’s benefit instead of making it communal.

The point was made towards BJP’s leader Sandeep Dayma allegedly making communal comments at a rally, which was also attended by UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in Tijara.

Reportedly, Dayma had said: “Kis tarah se itni masjiden, kis tarah se gurdware yahan par banakar chhodh diye! Ye aage chalkar hamare liye nasoor ban jayega. Isiliye hamara sabka dharam bhi banta hai ki is nasoor ko yahan se ukhad kar faink denge, aur Baba Balak Nathji ko bhari maton se jeetayenge (how many mosques, gurdwaras have been built here! This will become an open sore for us in the future. That is why it’s our duty that they be uprooted and thrown out, and Baba Balak Nathji win by a huge majority).” According to the Indian Express report, the Election Commission had issued a notice to Dayma.

Dayma later apologised for his remarks but it has failed to satisfy the Sikh community leaders. Dayma, is a former BJP candidate from Tijara in the 2018 Assembly election. After his anti-Sikh communal comments Dayma was called out by the Sikh community, and reportedly apologised averring that he wanted to refer to Masjid-Madrasa in his speech. On Sunday, the BJP in Rajasthan expelled Sandeep Dayma, reported the Indian Express.

While the opposition is also at crossroads with former Chief Minister of Punjab Capt. Amrinder Singh demanded the resignation of the minister. The statement led to widespread anger among the Sikhs, forcing Sandeep Dayma to issue an apology.

But the “apology” too was filled with religious hatred, but only against the Muslim community. Dayma said, “It was a slip of the tongue and what I wanted to say was that ‘mosques and madrasas’ would be uprooted. I wanted to say ‘masjid-madrasa’, but somehow said gurudwara. I apologise with folded hands.”

People in Jaipur feel that elections are won on the basis of communal disharmony rather than real issues.

Speaking to The Citizen, 43-year-old Sabiha, who is a social activist and a resident of Jaipur said that important issues are ignored while one community is being targeted to win the elections.

“Important issues are ignored and one community is being targeted. There needs to be an economic balance. You have spread terror towards one community. Foot terrorists are everywhere, whether they are on roads or in trains,” she said.

Sabiha is talking about the incident where a Railway Protection Force jawan on July 31 shot dead four people who were on a train near the Palghar railway station in Maharashtra. Among those killed was an assistant sub-inspector (ASI) and three passengers, all Muslim men with beards, across nine carriages.

“Teachers are giving punishment on ‘behalf’ of the community. These are the issues on which elections are being won, but issues that affect everyone are ignored. It is not just about one community but during elections hate on Muslims is used to win elections,” Sabiya said.

She further said that unemployment, poverty, look at our hunger index, these are such prevailing issues in our state and not just here but all over the country.

Meanwhile, 25-year-old Rabbe, hailing from Jaipur spoke to The Citizen and said that political parties do not involve important issues in their manifesto.

“We see so many important issues not being involved when we see the government manifesto of parties. For example, in BJP’s 2014 and 2019 manifesto there is nothing major on women issues. If a candidate is coming to us, they are coming with the idea of what schemes the Centre introduced and how much they can implement,” she said.

Yadya, who also hails from Jaipur, meanwhile pointed out how the number of women candidates are less in number. “I mean it is no surprise because in rural areas it is common for women to stand for elections, but it is the man who takes the decisions. All of this needs to be stopped and women need to be given equal opportunity in politics,” she said.

Sabiha, however, said that despite the passing of the Women Reservation Bill, it is not going to be effective, “God knows when it will be implemented. The problem is so much of the things are just on the outside.” She added that while Congress did introduce schemes, “the implementation was not good”.

Meanwhile, the drama continues as in the lead-up to the Assembly Polls, BJP activists staged a demonstration on November 4 outside the party headquarters in Jaipur.

The protest emerged in response to the party's decision to deny the ticket to former Rajasthan BJP President Arun Chaturvedi for the Civil Lines constituency. Notably, Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat engaged in negotiations with the protesters.

The situation underscores the dynamics and tensions within the BJP as the assembly elections draw near in Rajasthan.

The Congress, on the other hand, declared its sixth list of 22 candidates for the Rajasthan polls 2023. In the latest list, however, the party denied a ticket to Public Health Engineering Department Minister Mahesh Joshi from his Hawa Mahal constituency in Jaipur. The party fielded its Jaipur city unit president R. R. Tiwari in place of Joshi.

According to party sources, Joshi was served notices by the party for “indiscipline” after he skipped a Congress Legislature Party meeting called at the Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot's residence in Jaipur in September last year and held a parallel meeting at Dhariwal's residence to oppose any move of the party to appoint Sachin Pilot as the chief minister.

Former Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot has filed his nomination for the upcoming state polls from the Tonk assembly constituency. Pilot had contested from Tonk in the 2018 Rajasthan Assembly elections and won by a margin of over 54,000 votes against the BJP's Yoonus Khan.

So far, the party has announced candidates for 178 sets, out of a total of 200. The party has left the Bharatpur seat for the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD).

Meanwhile, in Rajasthan’s Kushalgarh, which is a Tribal belt, the political game is different. Located in South Rajasthan the tribal belt vote has been divided and is expected to go towards the tribal parties.

The major political parties, it seems, would face a difficult battle from the two tribal parties, the Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) and Bharat Adivasi Party (BAP), that will fight a close contest for the 25 reserved seats in the state.

While the BTP has released candidates for close to 23 seats, the BAP has announced 19 from different districts spread across the southern belt of Rajasthan. A total of eight districts in the state have either full or partial areas declared as part of Schedule V areas.

The fully tribal areas are Banswara, Dungarpur, and Pratapgarh, while the partly tribal areas constitute Udaipur, Rajsamand, Chittorgarh, Sirohi, and Pali.

“Our vote is going to the tribal party,” Teena, who hails from Pratapgarh, told The Citizen. She further said that the big players are going to have a tough competition here.

Earlier, these districts of Rajasthan would also be ruled by alternate governments of the BJP and Congress until 2018, when the Gujarat-based Bharatiya Tribal Party was pulled into the state to help the tribal people with political support to rightfully demand their rights. The BTP had won two seats, Chorasi and Sagwara, in its first election and finished a close second in some constituencies.

Thereafter with shifting political ideology, both the BTP MLAs, Roat and Sagwara MLA Ramprasad Dindor, quit the party and joined the BAP which was formed in September. On October 9, the Election Commission allotted the symbol of a hockey stick and ball to the BAP for Rajasthan polls.

The party has been formed to demand a new state of Bhil Pradesh, carved out of tribal dominated areas in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.

The BAP will field candidates in four other states, including poll bound Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, Roat had said.

The vertical division in BTP followed differences over supporting Congress candidates in Rajya Sabha polls in 2021, after which the two MLA split in 2022.

“The BAP comprises tribal leaders who keep the interest of the tribals first, unlike the BTP, which compromised to maintain closeness with the Congress government. It is clear that BAP will not forge any alliance with the Congress and BJP,” said Roat.

“The new party is garnering a lot of attention and we are expecting a fierce battle between the two. People are going to vote towards basic issues like food and water in tribal areas,” Teena said.

The tribal communities in Rajasthan, Teena averred lack so much development and with no major work done, the people do not want to give chance to big parties.

Sheetal Devi, 60 said that they have seen many governments come and go, but the tribal areas have not seen any development.

“As menial as roads are not developed. We would rather vote for people who come from the same land and understand our issues. A lot of people agree to this in the area, while others don’t even understand politics,” she said.

The state is scheduled for polling for 200 seats on November 25, with the vote tally set for December 3.