Elections

Desert blues for the Congress

Our Bureau New Delhi/Jaipur | Updated on April 29, 2019 Published on April 29, 2019

Voters display their identity cards as they wait in a queue to cast their votes at a polling station in Ajmer district   -  -

The BJP has tried harder to recover ground lost to the Congress in Rajasthan

The rising temperature in the desert State also means power shortages illustrative of the simmering discontent against the newly-elected Congress government, which strained to hold on to its recent Assembly election victory as 13 of the 25 seats in Rajasthan voted on Monday.

The BJP, on its part, has worked overtime to correct the caste arithmetic and whip up popular outrage against the State Government. In the 2014 elections, BJP won all the 25 seats in the State.

By 3 pm on Monday, as many as 54.77 per cent voters had cast their votes, indicating that the turnout was likely to match the record 63.09 per cent in the 2014 polls. The voter turnout of 63.09 per cent in 2014 reflected a wave in favour of the BJP as it was a staggering 15 percentage point increase over the 2009 elections.

But by 2018, anti-incumbency against the State government coupled with the anger of certain dominant social groups such as the Rajputs over certain issues — the Centre’s overturning of the Supreme Court’s decision to dilute the provisions of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities Act) and protests against the depiction of fictional Rajput princess Padmavati — switched the voter over to the Congress which missed the majority mark by one seat in the Assembly elections held last year.

During the Assembly polls, BJP stalwart and Rajput leader Jashwant Singh’s son Manvendra joined the Congress and contested against the then Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje.

However, according to a senior BJP leader, the situation has changed dramatically since last autumn.

“We are now in a position to win at least 20 of the 25 seats in Rajasthan. First of all, infighting between Sachin Pilot (Deputy Chief Minister) and Ashok Gehlot (Chief Minister) is crippling administration in the State and alienating communities such as the Gujjars, who in the hope of installing Pilot as CM, had voted en masse for the Congress in the Assembly elections. There is electricity shortage in the rural areas and the Congress has failed to fulfil its electoral promises of farm-loan waivers and unemployment doles,” said the BJP leader.

The BJP has pulled a coup by aligning with the emerging Jat leader Hanuman Beniwal. Jats have been the supporters of the Congress and Beniwal, whose newly-formed Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLTP) won three seats — Khinvsar, Merta and Bhopalgarh — in the last year’s Assembly elections, was in touch with the Congress till late last month.

But the BJP weaned him away and the party hopes that their new ally will influence voters in their favour in Barmer, Nagaur, Jodhpur, Pali and some parts of Sikar in the Marwar region. The BJP has also re-inducted Gujjar leader Kirori Singh Bainsla to reach out to this other community which forms nearly 9 per cent of the State’s population.

 

For the latest on elections: Elections 2019

Published on April 29, 2019
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