Jaipur: Western Rajasthan’s Pokhran Assembly constituency near the India-Pakistan border is all set to witness a close fight on religious lines in the December 7 elections.

In Pokhran constituency, Hindu religious leader Pratap Puri is the BJP candidate against Muslim religious leader Gazi Fakir’s son and the Congress candidate Shale Mohammad.
Both Puri, the Mahant of Taratra math, and Mohammad, whose father has a large number of followers both in India and across the border, have significant influence on their communities in the region and the fight between them is neck and neck making Pokhran constituency of Jaisalmer district one of the hotly contested seats in the state.

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Congress president Rahul Gandhi and firebrand Hindu leader and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath are going to hold rallies in the constituency in support of their respective candidates, that too on the same day – Monday.

“Protection of the Hindus and the cows has always been an important issue for the Hindus. Hindutva is in my veins and the party is going to win the election which has been made communal by the Congress by fielding a Muslim candidate against me,” Puri said.

The 51-year old Puri, a Rajput, said that politics should have religious leaders too, for the purification of politics.

Targeting Mohammad, Puri said that people are under fear of the Congress candidate and his family.

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“The public here has seen his earlier term and they are well aware of this family. The public is with the BJP because they have faith in the party’s policies and in the leaders like Narendra Modi,” he said.

Puri’s math in Barmer is engaged in carrying out social and religious activities and he is pulling crowds to his meetings. His math has the influence in entire Jodhpur division.

“We hold drug de-addiction camps, provide education to poor children, cows conservation besides conducting several other activities for social causes,” Puri said.

Puri informed that CM Adityanath will be campaigning for him and address a public rally in Pokaran on Monday.

On the same day, Congress president Rahul is also proposed to address a rally in Pokaran, which is famous as the site where nuclear tests were conducted by India during the regime of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 1998.

The Congress candidate Mohammad, on the other hand, said he was focused on core issues like water and other basic amenities for the people in Pokaran which has 1.94 lakh voters.

“People here face difficulties in getting drinking water, fodder for cattle. The constituency lacks healthcare facilities and I am focusing on that,” Mohammad, 41, said.

He had lost the 2013 elections against BJP’s Shaitan Singh by a margin of 34,444 votes.

Mohammad’s father Ghazi Fakir, who is over 80 years of age, has significant influence on Sindhi-Muslim community and has held a strong grip over the party in the region.

Fakir also has a criminal background and a history-sheet against him was opened in 2013 during the Congress government’s rule by the then SP Pankaj Chaudhary following suspicious activities by him.

The SP was transferred soon after the development.

In Pokaran, the number of Muslims are estimated to be around 55,000, followed by the Rajput voters who are around 45 to 48,000. The seat also has around 35,000 Dalit voters.

Pokaran is one of the two Assembly constituencies of the desert district of Jaisalmer.