Chandigarh, Nov 19 (PTI) The Jannayak Janta Party is confident of putting on a good performance in the assembly elections in Rajasthan, where the Haryana-based outfit is contesting from 20 seats in its first foray outside its home base.
Ajay Singh Chautala, who heads the regional outfit, was a two-time legislator from Rajasthan during his time in the Indian National Lok Dal before the party split into the Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) in 2018.
The JJP is now looking at Ajay Singh Chautala's guidance and experience to manoeuvre the polls in Rajasthan.
The party is also banking on Chaudhary Devi Lal, the former deputy prime minister whose political legacy it claims to carry forward, who was the MP from Sikar in 1989. Three of the 20 assembly seats the party is contesting are in the Sikar parliamentary segment.
The JJP, a BJP ally in Haryana, was keen to contest the Rajasthan polls jointly but decided to field candidates on its own after the saffron party did not show any inclination.
In Haryana, there have been signs of differences between the BJP and the JJP in recent months. Some senior BJP leaders have also talked about contesting next year's Lok Sabha and assembly polls on their own and a section are in favour of snapping ties with the JJP.
Both the parties have remained non-committal on contesting the 2024 elections jointly.
The JJP, formed after a vertical split in the Indian National Lok Dal, extended support to the BJP after the saffron party fell short of majority following the 2019 Haryana Assembly polls.
JJP Secretary General Digvijay Chautala said the party and other regional outfits hold the key to the Rajasthan Assembly election fortunes, referring to its 'key' poll symbol.
About the JJP's chances, he said, "We will put up a good performance." Pointing to regional parties bagging a few seats in assembly polls in Rajasthan over the years, Digvijay Chautala said these outfits "will win 30-35 seats, indicating that no single party will be able to form a government without their support".
"All regional forces will have to come together and make some sort of alliance post the results and join hands," he said, pointing to the scenario if no single party gets a majority.
Digvijay Chautala, Haryana Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala and Ajay Singh Chautala have been campaigning for JJP candidates fielded from various seats, including Danta Ramgarh and Fatehpur.
He said people there are aware of the work done by the JJP in Haryana. These include taking steps to make the lives of farmers better, opening e-libraries in rural areas and initiatives in aviation and other sectors.
Underscoring the role regional parties can play if they have a share in power, Digvijay Chautala said, "Looking at Rajasthan, especially the remote areas, education and medical infrastructure and the roads are in a bad shape. Big parties win but their attention remains limited to big cities and towns after victory and these areas get neglected." "If regional parties are there, they will definitely strengthen these areas and undertake development," he added.
When asked why a tie-up with the saffron party did not materialise in Rajasthan, Digvijay Chautala said, "The BJP's Rajasthan unit was not able to understand the actual strength of the JJP. They were considering us to be a new party and didn't actually understand that this party was born from Chaudhary Devi Lalji's ideology." He said Chaudhary Devi Lal played a role in paving the way for Bhairon Singh Shekhawat to come to power in Rajasthan in 1990.
Ajay Singh Chautala was MLA from Rajasthan twice, winning from Danta Ramgarh in 1990 and Nohar in 1993, he said and added people of these segments still remember his development work.
"The BJP, I think, failed to understand the importance of Chaudhary Devi Lalji's ideology or the number of followers it still has in Rajasthan. I think they made a big loss in the matter (by not contesting jointly)," Digvijay Chautala said.
He also accused the Congress of making false promises ahead of the assembly polls and said people will not fall for their "guarantees".
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has announced seven guarantees -- an annual honorarium of Rs 10,000 to women heads of families, cooking gas cylinders at Rs 500 to 1.05 crore families, purchase of dung from cattle rearers at Rs 2 per kilogramme, law for old pension scheme for government employees, laptop or tablet to students taking admission in state-run colleges, insurance cover up to Rs 15 lakh per family to compensate for losses due to natural calamities, and school education in English medium -- if the Congress retains power in the state.
Rajasthan has witnessed a two-way contest between the Congress and the BJP during the past three decades.
Polling for the 200-member Rajasthan Assembly will be held on November 25 and the votes will be counted on December 3.
Among the candidates, the JJP has fielded Rita Chaudhary from Sikar's Danta Ramgarh. Her husband Virendra Chaudhary, the sitting MLA, has been renominated by the Congress. From Suratgarh, the JJP has fielded its Rajasthan unit chief Prithviraj Meel.
The JJP sounded the election bugle with a rally in Sikar on September 25 on Chaudhary Devi Lal's birth anniversary. PTI SUN VSD SZM