Chhotan’s political maze: Battle for dominance in assembly polls


The Chhotan assembly seat of Barmer district in western Rajasthan was reserved for Scheduled Castes in 2008. Leaders here have switched allegiances multiple times, contesting elections on tickets from different parties and becoming legislators. The majority of the Chhotan assembly constituency is situated near the border. This seat has been contested 14 times since its establishment in 1957, with Congress winning 8 times, BJP twice, and various other party candidates winning four times. Congress party’s Wali Mohammad was the first legislator elected from this seat in 2008 after it was reserved for Scheduled Castes. In 2013, Tarun Rai Kaga, displaced from Pakistan, contested against Congress’ Padamaram Meghwal and won. In the 2018 assembly elections, Padamaram Meghwal, representing the Congress, once again became the legislator. For the 2023 elections, the Congress party has nominated Padamaram again, while the BJP has given a ticket to Adu Ram Meghwal.
The Chohtan assembly seat has witnessed a dominance of leaders who have switched parties. Abdul Hadi, who won the seat six times, initially won as an independent candidate in 1957. Later, in 1972, he joined the Congress, contested and won with the Lok Dal in 1985, switched to Janata Dal in 1990 and became a legislator, returned to Congress in 1998, and won again. Like Abdul Hadi, Bhagwan Das Dosi, who won in 1980 on a Congress ticket, later contested as an independent, winning and reaching the assembly. Similarly, Ganga Ram Choudhary, elected as an independent candidate from Barmer in 1993, contested in 2003 on a BJP ticket from the Chohtan assembly seat, defeating Congress’ Abdul Hadi. The Chohtan constituency marks the beginning of the Gujarat border. Muslims, Jats, Bishnois, and SC/ST voters play a decisive role in the constituency. The Abdul Hadi family had a significant influence on the Chohtan assembly seat. In 2008, when the seat was reserved, Abdul Hadi persuaded Congress to give the ticket to Padamaram Meghwal, who was working as a manager in the Gram Seva Sahkari Samiti. Padamaram defeated BJP candidate Tarun Rai Kaga and became a legislator for the first time. In the 2013 elections, Tarun Rai Kaga defeated Padamaram. Abdul Hadi’s son Gaffoor Ahmed and daughter-in-law Shama are active in politics. Gaffoor Ahmed served as the Chairman of the Labour Advisory Board in the Gehlot government of 2018 and received the rank of State Minister. Shama Bano is currently the head and had previously been the head of Chohtan. Bano recently sought a ticket from the Shiv constituency but was given to Amin Khan. Abdul Hadi’s family is working hard to win the Chohtan assembly seat with Padamaram in this election. However, there has been dissatisfaction between Padamaram and the Hadi family for quite some time. As the elections approach, Padamaram has reconciled with the Hadi family, and Congress is claiming a comfortable victory margin in Chohtan this time. On the other hand, BJP’s Adu Ram Meghwal is making strong efforts to give tough competition to Congress. Congress is claiming a substantial victory margin on the Chohtan seat in this election.