Political Ripples In The City Of Lakes
Elections with The Citizen: Voters want civic issues solved, candidates gear up for tough fight
In Rajasthan’s Udaipur the streets of the Old city are bustling as usual. With tourists always overflowing the old wall city, surrounded by luscious lakes, Udaipur is known as the City of Lakes and is a must visit for travel enthusiasts.
With elections just 25 days away, the buzz can be felt around the city. People sit at tea stalls discussing politics as hoardings of political parties have been put up. While the hopefuls are still waiting for tickets, some potential candidates have started holding meetings and strategising.
However, the mood seems divided at the moment. “There is still time for people to decide anything. People are still getting tickets,” a member of the Congress party told The Citizen. Foot soldiers of both Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have stepped out on the field. However, for people it is the everyday work that is more important.
“Hume kya karna (What will we do?). I go out to work everyday and earn accordingly. Now, what these politicians do is up to them,” Subhash Singh, a resident of Udaipur said. Singh also pointed out that things have become quite communal since the past two years. “There is a sense of tension in the air,” he said.
On asking what are the major issues in the city, Singh pointed towards development issues, “Roads are a major issue for me personally,” he said. With elections almost near, a repairing spree is seen on roads. However, Singh averred that this happened only during G20. “Why wait for occasions or elections to repair roads?” he asked.
Meanwhile, Nahar Singh, who has worked near the Old City said that they are having electricity cuts for particular hours as the government is preparing for elections. “They are cutting trees and beautifying the place for elections. We were told that we will not have lights for a few days,” he said, adding that it does create an issue for people, but “”it is something that always happens.”
The Udaipur Assembly constituency will see a tight contest between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Indian National Congress (INC), and Independent (IND). There seems to be a fixed face to face contest for 10 seats so far.
Out of 28 seats in Mewar and Vagad, there is strong contest between BJP and Congress for only 10 assembly seats. Both BJP and Congress have declared their candidates on these 10 seats. These seats include Salumber, Kherwara, Nathdwara, Dungarpur, Pratapgarh, Nimbahera, Ghatol, Kushalgarh, Jhadol and Bagidaura.
In 2018, BJP’s Gulab Chand Kataria from Udaipur, won the seat with 74808 votes. He defeated Indian National Congress’ Girija Vyas who had polled 65484 votes. The winning margin was 9324 votes.
The competition seems to be fierce this time. Syed, a resident of Udaipur said that they can feel elections coming near. “We can see the hustle bustle outside party offices. For common people like us, we just have to work,” he added.
Manjari, a social activist in Udaipur said that with elections nearing, candidates should focus on more social issues that need work. “Gender, water, health and education are still so bad in Rajasthan. So much work needs to be done on policy level and we expect the same from people,” she said.
Manjari also added that they have also started hitting the grounds educating people about voting rights. “It is imperative that people understand whom to vote for and why it is important to vote,” she added.
Party members were too busy to answer questions and said they were waiting for formal orders from their “bosses”. A source close to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) said that they are already hitting the ground. AAP will be contesting elections in Rajasthan for the first time. “We are expanding our base and our people are already working hard. The top players are about to come soon as well. We just want to introduce ourselves to the people,” they said.
As elections nears, security has also increased in Rajasthan with alcohol ban at many places. Rajasthan has one of the highest cases of alcohol bribes during elections. “Party members visit villages or people and bribe them with alcohol. I myself receive a lot of bribes as alcohol. It has started coming at the end of elections. Cartons filled with bottles will be sitting at my home,” Subhash Singh said.
Rajasthan has a crippling alcohol abuse issue, however, the government has not banned the consumption despite uproar by activists and people. Meanwhile, Gujarat Police has also tightened its rope as smuggling of alcohol has become a menace. “People from Gujarat come here to drink alcohol, so during elections there is tight security,” Singh said.
Rajasthan Police has also put checkpoints in place for vehicles. Meanwhile, restaurants serving alcohol have also been asked not to serve it anymore as an official protocol. Restaurant owner Balbir Singh who owns a shop at the border of Udaipur said that police had especially come and warned them. “They said we will face serious consequences if we sell alcohol,” he said, as people behind him were seen persuading the waiters to get alcohol.
The checkpoints are majorly at border areas. “We check all vehicles, mostly cars and small trucks for alcohol,” a police official said.
The Udaipur Assembly constituency will go to polls on November 25 this year. The election schedule was announced by the Election Commission of India on October 9.
As per the schedule announced by the Election Commission of India, counting of votes and announcement of results for the Udaipur Assembly Constituency Election 2023 will be done on December 3.