Jaipur: Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s recent midnight visit to octogenarian Sursagar MLA Suryakanta Vyas’ house in Jodhpur to show “respectfor her longpoliticalinnings,”has set the rumour mills running.
Vyas, 85, is a three-term MLA from the Pushkarna Brahmin-dominated urban constituency, Sursagar in Jodhpur.She has been winning the seat for BJP from 2008 after delimitation. Earlier, the constituency was a reserved one.
Although, Vyas had seen the ticket denial coming because of her age, she still had expressed a desire to contest.
Gehlot while on a two-day visit to Jodhpur, met Vyas twice, first at around 6 pmand later 12:30 pm, setting off speculations.
Gehlot is said to have been repeatedly saying that Vyas, fondly known as “jiji”, did not get the BJP ticket because she had praised him for sanctioning Rs 4.75 crore funds for Kuldevi Temple, revered by the Pushkarna community.
Gehlot has described the visit a “courtesy call” as familial relations between the two leaders go back a long way, saying, he wanted to pay respect forher years of work for the people.”
Gehlot’s move is being seen as a shrewd political move. Political observers say, Gehlot does not do anything without a purpose. He is manipulative and focuses on long-term gains.
“It is political messaging at its best to woo the Pushkarna community, which forms a sizeable number of vote bank. Pushkarnas are Brahmins and their population is concentrated in and around Jodhpur and Phalodi,” says Narayan Bareth, a political observer.
Vyas is accessible, helpful, and has a considerable hold on her community. She is also reportedly close to Vasundhara Raje.
Gehlot is hoping to cash in on her popularity and to gain sympathy votes for showing respect to her in contrast to the BJP leaders, who have been quite vocal about her age and her capability to serve another term.
Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat had a run-in with Vyas recently when she had praised Gehlot for the temple funds. He saidthat Vyas is old, almost 90, and her statements should not be taken seriously.
A hurt Vyas, had then retaliated saying that Shekhawat was not even born when she joined the party, “I have spent more years in the party than Gajendra’s age. He is like a son to me. He should have thought before making such a statement about my age and comparing me with Kailash Meghwal.”
Meghwal, 90, is another BJP leader, who was suspended after he levelled allegations about corruption on Union minister Arjun Ram Meghwal.
However, Vyas has started campaigning for her replacement Devendra Joshi, also a Puskarna Brahmin.
(Published 26 October 2023, 14:17 IST)