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Modi support firm despite water issues, stronger Cong candidate in Jaisalmer

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Press Trust of India Jaisalmer (Raj)
Pro Modi, anti Vasundhara Raje slogans reflected the strong anti-incumbency sentiment that uprooted the BJP's government in Rajasthan in December last year.
Four months later with Lok Sabha elections underway, slogans like "Modi tujhse bair nahi, Vasundhara teri khair nahi" (We have no enmity with Modi, but Vasundhara will not be spared) are not heard, of course, but the sentiment appears eerily similar pro Modi but anti the BJP's sitting MP Sona Ram.
In the bylanes of this desert district, several voters rued the fact that Ram has done no work but said they are inclined to vote for another term for the Modi-led BJP government.
The desert city, under the Barmer-Jaisalmer parliamentary constituency, goes to the polls on Monday with both the Congress and the BJP fielding new candidates.
While BJP is fielding Kailash Chaudhary, the Congress has put forward Manvendra Singh, the son of former cabinet minister and senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh, who joined the party last October.
Many voters said they know Manvendra Singh, don't know Choudhary and are unhappy with Sona Ram's poor performance but may still back Modi.
"Sona Ram didn't get anything done. People are still facing issues regarding water supply. There is not much done in the name of Swachh Bharat, but I will still vote for Modi ji in the Centre," Parth Bhatia, a local trader, told PTI.
"Modi ji thinks about the country. He has done well for everyone. Farmers are in a better condition now. The Army has become more powerful. India's name is respected in the world because of Modi ji. The only problem we have is with the MP and the MLA. They have done nothing," Parth added.
Several people showed affinity for former MP Manvendra Singh but Chaudhary's name neither rang any bells nor received any vote of confidence.
"We have never heard of Kailash Chaudhary before, Manvendra has served the city earlier. We know him, but not Chaudhary," said Naresh Bhatia, a chemist.
He added that the election is also a means for Singh to prove his worth.
Discussing the impact of Goods and Services Tax (GST) and demonetisation, local traders said it impacted only those who had something to hide.
"It will again be Modi government in the Centre. I don't think he has played a single card wrong. All those complaining about GST and demonetisation are those who were making money on the side," said Rishi Raj Bhatia.
Many businessmen vouched for Modi despite problems such as lack of water and jobs as well as unclean roads.
"Water supply issues are not new. We always had that problem," Rishi Raj said.
Issues of employment and water for farmers echo with Parth too. But he believes another term for the Modi government will set it right.
"Farmers need timely water supply. That's the biggest issue here. There are lakhs of people on temporary posts or looking for jobs, Modi ji had said they will be made permanent. But let's give him another chance, I am sure he will work towards these issues."

In the chorus of approval for Modi, there were also some who said the government was "anti-poor".
"If you simply walk around a market, any market in the country, you will realise a large number of traders don't use computers. Heck, they can't even read or write more than what they need to. How will they understand GST?" asked Purushottam Malpani, a local trader.
Attacking the centre's Swachh Bharat programme, Malpani said mountains of garbage can be seen next to the railway tracks on the way to Delhi.
"If Modi can't clean the place where he lives, how can he make promises to clean the country? Look around and you can see so much garbage in this city, a globally famous tourist place. Where is Swachh Bharat?" he added.
Former BJP loyalist Azad Bhatia said he did not like the way Modi government had "killed the market entirely".
"You can still see the effects of demonetisation. The market is at its lowest. Traders still haven't recovered from it. If this is what the government has given us in the last five years, why should I vote for it again?"

Not just businesses, the secular fabric of the country is in tatters, he added.
"Earlier Hindus and Muslims were quietly doing their own things, now even that has become an issue," he said.

Disclaimer: No Business Standard Journalist was involved in creation of this content

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First Published: Apr 28 2019 | 2:15 PM IST

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