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Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot kicked off his election campaign with the release of the Congress party's manifesto. “Rajasthan has developed a lot in the last five years, but much more remains to be done and we need another five years for that,” he told the media.

Even as various opinion polls indicate that the Congress is likely to retain power, the concern in the party is it will not hold on to its huge strength in the current assembly: 158 out of 200 seats. In 1998, the Congress won 153 seats (with five more MLAs joining the Congress later), giving the party a 3/4th majority and a mandate to undertake necessary measures to help develop one of India’s most backward states.

Five years later, Rajasthan has made some progress, but given its backwardness, the state has miles to go, a fact Gehlot acknowledges.

Reportage: Amberish K Diwanji in Jaipur. Photographs: Uttam Ghosh

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Also see: People's Princess

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