Raje govt neglects drought in western Rajasthan

Rajasthan is prone to drought and the grim situation in western Rajasthan as well as the apathy of the district administration will become a political issue in the coming election

Raje govt neglects drought in western Rajasthan
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Prakash Bhandari

Rajasthan, particularly its arid western part, is prone to drought. The people in the Thar desert area live at the mercy of the monsoon. Scant rains turn even drinking water into a scarce item. This year, while eastern Rajasthan received 20% more rainfall than normal, western Rajasthan, comprising the border districts of Jaisalmer and Barmer, Jodhpur, Pali and Jalore received less than 60% of the same. The situation is grim as these districts are in the midst of drought in an election year. The district administrations are yet to begin the girdwari (survey) of the loss and the intensity of the drought.

The apathy of the district administrations and the lack of efforts on part of the Vasundhara Raje government have come under criticism. PCC president Sachin Pilot and former Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, along with the BJP rebel Manvendra Singh, son of the former Union minister Jaswant Singh and sitting MLA from Barmer district, have openly criticised Vasundhara Raje for not paying any attention to the grim situation in this part where people are being forced to migrate to other states to save their cattle as there is not enough fodder for the livestock.

“The district administration has not taken enough measures even after the monsoon is gone now. The sowing was done when the monsoon began. Deficit of over 60% rainfall has led to a drought situation, which means, till the next monsoon, the people of the region will not have even adequate drinking water to survive. The Vasundhara Raje government is busy taking out Gaurav Yatra, holding roadshows and telling people about the achievements of the BJP government but the Chief Minister has no time to assess the situation in western Rajasthan. All these will have political repercussions and the BJP is heading for a dismal show in the coming Vidhan Sabha elections,” said Manvendra Singh.

PCC president Sachin Pilot and former Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, along with the BJP rebel Manvendra Singh, son of the former Union minister Jaswant Singh and sitting MLA from Barmer district, have openly criticised Vasundhara Raje for not paying any attention to the grim situation in this part where people are being forced to migrate to other states to save their cattle as there is not enough fodder for the livestock

Manvendra Singh has distanced himself from the BJP and has turned a rebel. He has already accused the Chief Minister of ignoring the plight of the people and said that the process of sidelining his father Jaswant Singh, by denying him the BJP ticket in the last Lok Sabha election, continues. He has been identified as the single BJP MLA who the district administration has been advised not to cooperate with, he has said.

“My father was denied ticket and Congress leader Col Sona Ram Choudhry was given the ticket in the last Lok Sabha election. After that, the Chief Minister and other party leaders have been victimising me. Not only me, all my supporters were also subjected to harassment. I met both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party supremo Amit Shah and told them about the harassment I was subjected to. But the Chief Minister and other party leaders continued to ignore me. As a result, development work in my constituency, Sheo, came to a stop. This is the reason I did not take part in Gaurav Yatra. The BJP will have to pay a big price for this in western Rajasthan,” warned Manvendra Singh.

Manvendra Singh served as MP from Barmer constituency, but then he opted to contest the Assembly elections. He is undecided whether he would contest the election or not. The BJP has not taken any action against him and another party rebel Ghanshyam Tiwari. While Manvendra has not floated another party, there is speculation that he would join the Congress, while Ghanshyam Tiwari has launched his own political outfit.

The grim situation in western Rajasthan and the apathy of the district administration will become a political issue in the coming election. The Congress would like to encash the situation. The Congress party, in the last Assembly election in spite of the presence of Ashok Gehlot, “Marwar Ka Gandhi”, fared poorly and the Congress could win only three seats including that of Gehlot himself. The Modi wave swept through western Rajasthan. But the situation has changed. There is no Modi wave and people are left to judge the performance of the state government on its merit.

The refinery, an initiative of the Gehlot government when it was in power between 2008 and 2013, was to be built at a cost of ₹12,000 crore but it was messed up by the next BJP government. It decided to review the refinery project on cost lines and, after reviewing it, announced a new package and the refinery project was relaunched again.

“The refinery which was a Congress project met its Waterloo and barring some land demarcation in Pachpadra, the site of the refinery, nothing much has been done. The refinery exists only on paper now. It was torpedoed by the Vasundhara Raje government and the project suffered immensely. People have not forgotten this and the drought and the refinery issue would go against the BJP and the Congress is going to reap benefits,” said Bhiyan Ram Bishnoi of Luni village.

In western Rajasthan, the Rajput community is unhappy with the treatment meted out to Jaswant Singh and his son, and the insistence of Vasundhara Raje to not appoint Jodhpur MP and Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat as the state unit president. The Anandpal Singh encounter killing was the icing on the cake. All these developments have put the Congress in a commanding position in western Rajasthan.

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