Vaibhav Gehlot is the Congress candidate pitted against incumbent BJP MP and Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat in the Jodhpur Lok Sabha seat. Vaibhav Gehlot’s election debut comes with high stakes: the constituency has sent his father, three-term Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, to the Lok Sabha five times since 1980.

Both Shekhawat and Narendra Modi used Vaibhav Gehlot’s candidature to take digs at this father. “In first 100 days, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot just focused on preparing the political ground for his son Vaibhav instead of doing work for the state,” Shekhawat said. Modi claimed that the chief minister was “roaming around in the streets of Jodhpur” to ensure his son’s victory.

Vaibhav Gehlot, however, was keen on establishing his own identity. The 39-year-old Congress candidate said he has been an “active party worker” who has contributed to the Youth Congress since 2003. He told PTI: “My father’s legacy does not apply to me because, after working for 15 years in the party, I have now got an opportunity to get a ticket to contest the Jodhpur Lok Sabha constituency.”

The Congress candidate claimed that Shekhawat had neglected Jodhpur’s development. “In rural areas my focus will be on electricity and water,” Gehlot had told Deccan Herald. “For urban areas, good road projects and industrial-friendly environment will remain my priority. Student counselling and careers will also be my priority.”

Shekhawat’s candidature

Shekhawat, a long-time member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the ideological parent of the BJP, said that national security and nationalism are the main factors in this election. “This election is for the future, pride, respect and security of the country,” Hindustan Times had quoted him as saying.

He had won the 2014 Jodhpur election against Congress candidate and former MP Chandresh Kumari. He had polled 66% of the votes in the 2014 election while Kumari secured only 28%. The BJP had won all 25 Lok Sabha seats in the state in 2014.

Both parties have a lot of prestige riding on this race, so it is likely to be close, say observers.

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