Rajasthan’s Pushkar, a place known for its Brahma temple, the only one to exist in the world, is a major tourist destination for people not just from India, but from all over the world. The Citizen followed the candidates who are fighting the Assembly elections from Pushkar, and spoke to the people on what major issues need to be focussed on.

Many people here said that Pushkar still needs development, and while it is a major tourist destination, more work needs to be done.

Atul, who drives an auto in Pushkar said that the condition of roads in Pushkar is not good and expects the candidates to work on it. Averring that he does not support any political party, Atul said, “We are poor people. We earn on an everyday basis but some development work like good roads should be the priority of the candidates”.

He added that while a lot of work has been done to encourage tourism, it gets chaotic when they have to drive on bad roads, especially when tourist footfall is at its peak.

The tourist season in Pushkar will start from November, which will also see its famous Camel Fair. Pushkar is known the world over for this unique Fair and hosts thousands of visitors each season.

It is one of the world's largest cattle fairs. Apart from the buying and selling of livestock, it has become an important tourist attraction. Competitions such as the 'matka phod', 'longest moustache' and 'bridal competition' are the main draws for this fair which attracts thousands of tourists.

However, the locals have said that this time, tourism will be affected due to the “Israel-Palestine issue”. “Many people have already left as tourists start coming in from the end of October. Pushkar is a hub for Israeli tourists and they had to leave as soon as war broke out,” Tarun who runs a café in Pushkar said.

People, however, said that the start of mela might help business pick up. When asked about who they think is going to win the Assembly elections this time, Tarun said, “It seems to be a tough competition this time.”

The political candidates, meanwhile, have geared up and started door to door campaigns. Suresh Singh Rawat, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member and sitting MLA from Pushkar, will be contesting elections for the third time. He is confident that people would vote for him again.

Speaking to The Citizen, Rawat said, “BJP is going to win in Rajasthan with good numbers and I am confident about my win as well.”

When asked what issues he will be focussing on this election season Rawat said he is already working on big and small issues in Pushkar already, but did not specify what they will be. “The issues that need attention, I will focus on that. When I make my government, I will work more on making Pushkar a good place,” Rawat said.

Rawat further said that while all governments work for the benefit of the people, the sitting Congress party in Rajasthan, has not been able to work the way they should have this term. “They kept doing propaganda. They did bring in a lot of good policies on health but could not implement it properly,” he added.

For Naseem Akhter, the candidate from Congress party however, Congress has worked wonders for the benefit of the people. Akhter hails from Ajmer, located merely 15 kilometres from Pushkar, but contests elections from Pushkar. Having contested the last two times as well, the Congress candidate lost to Rawat. However, he feels it will be different this time.

“I feel in good spirits. Pushkar is the land of God Brahma and the Congress party has supported me to give me a chance again is something I am thankful for. The Congress government has worked a lot for the people of Rajasthan and we will continue to do so,” Akhter said, adding that all the work done in Pushkar has been under the Congress government’s regime.

She said that Congress is coming back to power in Rajasthan. When asked what issues she is focussing on, Akhter said, “I will work on making Pushkar better in terms of development, gender and education.”

Both the candidates did not specify their focus on gender issues, which many women feel ignored during the elections.

Many activists have tried to raise the issue of gender in Rajasthan as issues like domestic violence, unemployment and women's health still seem to be major issues in the state.

“Nobody talks about the issues of women during elections. This is sheer ignorance. Gender is a major issue in Rajasthan with issues like domestic violence, women's health being completely ignored,” Sarita, an activist in Rajasthan told The Citizen.

When asked the candidates, both said they will work on “working towards women empowerment.”

“Congress has already done a lot of work for women’s health and we will continue to do more. As a woman I understand the issues of women and focus on it even more,” Akhter said.

Rawat while applauding Congress government for their health schemes, averred that the “implementation has been poor”.

The 2023 Rajasthan Legislative Assembly polls are scheduled to be held on November 25 2023, to elect all 200 members of the state's Legislative Assembly.