Barmer is My Priority: Congress' Manvendra Singh Throws Hat in the Ring for Lok Sabha Polls

Barmer is My Priority: Congress' Manvendra Singh Throws Hat in the Ring for Lok Sabha Polls
New Delhi: Former Member of Parliament from Barmer and Congress leader Manvendra Singh says he would return to contest from his earlier stomping ground.

“My intention has always been to contest Lok Sabha polls and Barmer has been my priority,” Singh told News18, adding that the selection process is still on.

Singh, an MP from 2004 to 2009 and later a Legislator from Sheo, left the BJP in September 2018 and joined the Congress ahead of Assembly elections in Rajasthan. He had defected from the BJP citing differences with the then chief minister Vasundhara Raje. He had expressed displeasure over the treatment meted out to his father, senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh. BJP’s decision to back Colonel Sona Ram, a Congress defector, instead of the party veteran in 2014 general elections was considered an insult to the leader.

In 2018 state polls, Congress fielded Singh against Raje from Jhalrapatan in Jhalawar district, where the former CM had maintained a stronghold for nearly three decades. Singh lost by a margin of 34,980 votes.

The Congress leader believes the recently formed government has generated enough goodwill among the people to repeat Assembly poll results in upcoming general elections.

“The matter of MGNREGA helpers has been pending for over five years. They have been running pillar to post and that was the first issue I took up with Sachin Pilot. Before the election dates were announced, government issued a circular going through administrative and legal process and taking people’s opinions and they have already issued order. This could have been done five years ago,” Singh said. “It has affected roughly 10,300 workers in every district and has sent the right message.”

Singh also said the implementation of the promised loan waiver scheme had been efficient and maintained that Congress were facing any negatives in the state ahead of polls.

The Congress leader, who had fought in the Kargil war also said that the BJP government at the centre had ran out of agendas and issues to fight the election on and was banking only on the “martyrdom of Indian soldiers.”

“Modi’s appeal has already worn off because the issues on the basis of which he came to power in 2014 are not holding the centre ground anymore. He is asking for votes only on the basis of martyrdom of Indian soldiers. The election plank now is some fictitious figures and the sad martyrdom of our soldiers,” Singh said.

According to him, the Balakot airstrikes and the resulting standoff with Pakistan would not help the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls. Calling the numbers quoted by BJP leaders regarding the number of terrorists killed in the Indian Air Force strike “fiction”, Singh said voters would see through the saffron party’s bluster.

“The Air Chief made it completely clear that they are not in the business of counting bodies and they have no confirmation on the number of deaths. So that is fiction, and some people have bought it. But like all fiction, it has a shelf life. And that shelf life is short. People will see the truth soon enough.”

Rajasthan will vote in Lok Sabha elections in two phases on April 29 and May 6. While 13 seats will go to polls in phase four on April 29, the rest 12 will vote in phase five on May 6. The Lok Sabha polls will be completed in seven phases in the country, beginning 11 April and ending on May 19. The vote counting is slated for May 23.