Rajpath – the road leading to Vidhan Sabha – is the smoothest driveway in Rajasthan. But in the coming year, the ‘Path’ ahead towards ‘Raj’ is a bumpy one for Vasundhara Raje; who faces the fiercest battle of all times.In fact, the 2018 elections will decide the political future of two stalwarts of Rajasthan politics. And for the one who loses, it may well be the end of the road or being relegated into ignominy.Raje, who turns 65 in the coming year, will have to give her best to comeback as chief minister for the second successive time. Similarly for former chief minister Ashok Gehlot, who crosses 67, it will be the last chance to claim the state.For Gehlot, it is a fight on two fronts. One within the party for a consensus about him and secondly against Raje who enjoys an edge due to being in power.The young chief of Congress in the state, Sachin Pilot too has a nerve wrenching year ahead. He has to move out of the shadow of the glorious political legacy of his illustrious father Rajesh Pilot and prove his mettle. Keeping up the traditions, Sachin is a close aide of Rahul Gandhi, just as his father Rajesh Pilot was to Rajiv Gandhi.And this year’s electoral challenges begin in the first month itself as the three bypolls are scheduled for January 29. The poll momentum will escalate over the months to culminate in the assembly elections close to the end of year.However, Raje looks confident as the sun rises to salute the new spirit of the election year. Her path breaking initiatives and welfare schemes to especially benefit the destitute, the old and the women have gone down well with the public. All eyes will be on Raje’s dream projects that could easily help her win elections hands down.MILESTONES TO THE ROAD TO POWERRing RoadAfter years of inaction, the ambitious Ring Road is again back on track. Raje used her influence to bring in central road agency NHAI to take over this ‘contentious’ project. Her proximity with union surface transport minister Nitin Gadkari did the trick for the state.Dravyavati River FrontThis is again her ambitious project which is fast ‘galloping’ towards completion within the stipulated time. If it meets the target date, Drvyavati River Front will surely flow in votes for BJP government.Barmer RefineryThe Rs 43000-crore refinery, which is likely to be laid down this month by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will be testimony of the grit and determination of Raje, who reworked the financials of the proposed refinery in favour of Rajasthan before taking it out of drawing board. The upspin in economic activities and employment generation with setting up of refinery will tilt the balance in favour of BJP.Air connectivityAfter giving super highways with investment worth thousands of crores, Raje looks sky wards. Aiming to conquer the sky, she has started air services connecting places of her importance like Jaisalmer, Kota, Udaipur and Kishangarh. She has more routes in her plans which would end up making a robust air connectivity to Rajasthan. Prosperity then would take an aerial route, covering the shortest distance.Jal SwavlambanAnother pet project for Raje, Jal Swablamban, aims to recharge ground water and revive old baories, will have to pass through summer test this year. If her efforts succeeds in weathering water deficit this season, Raje will have more chances to strategise meeting water requirements for 5 more summers.Stumbling BlockIf the projects fail, the poll equations might tilt in different directions. Also, it would much depend on how the chief minister handles farmers agitation and appease Gurjars who are again raising voice against the High Court’s decision which has barred them from getting 5% quota benefits. This year, as Raje has indicated in her interview after completing 4 years, will be more of implementation than fancy announcements.In a relay race, last leg is vital. If the athlete races, deficits in previous stretches not only get covered but also offer a chance to grab the Gold. Raje apparently is a firm believer of this.
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