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Rajasthan continues tradition, shows door to Cong, BJP back in saddle

Source: PTI
Last updated on: December 04, 2023 00:36 IST
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The Bharatiya Janata Party wrested Rajasthan on Sunday, winning 115 seats out of the 199 where polling took place as the Congress failed to buck the state's three-decade revolving-door trend in which the voters reject the party in power.

IMAGE: BJP workers celebrate the party's victory in the Rajasthan assembly elections, in Jaipur on Sunday. Photograph: ANI Photo

The Congress won from 69 seats.

A slew of welfare schemes introduced by the Ashok Gehlot government in the run-up to the November 25 assembly polls fell flat before the aggressive BJP campaign, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

And hours before the results were largely in, Gehlot conceded defeat on social media.


'We humbly accept the mandate given by the people of Rajasthan. This is an unexpected result for everyone. This defeat shows that we were not completely successful in taking our plans, laws and innovations to the public,' the outgoing CM said on X.

He later submitted his resignation to Governor Kalraj Mishra.

IMAGE: Former Rajasthan chief minister and BJP vice-president Vasundhara Raje speaks to the media as she arrive at state party office, in Jaipur on Sunday. Photograph: ANI Photo

The Rajasthan Assembly has 200 seats, but the contest on one was postponed due to the death of a candidate.

Smaller parties picked up a handful of seats in what was essentially a two-party contest.

The Bharat Adivasi Party won three seats and the Bahujan Samaj Party got two.

The Rashtriya Loktantrik Party and the Rashtriya Lok Dal bagged one each, while the independents got eight.

A little over two percentage points separated the vote share of the two top parties. According to tentative Election Commission figures, BJP polled 41.69 percentage of the votes cast and the Congress 39.53.

Last time, less than one percentage point separated the winner from the loser.

It was not immediately clear whom the BJP will pick as next chief minister. During the campaign, Modi had made it clear that 'lotus' -- the party's poll symbol -- will be its face.

Vasundhara Raje, a former CM who retained her Jhalrapatan assembly constituency by a margin of 53,193 votes, is among the several frontrunners. Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and Union Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal are also said to be in the race.

IMAGE: BJP workers celebrate in Jaipur. Photograph: ANI Photo

Jaipur Rural MP Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, a former Union minister who won the Jhotwara assembly seat by a margin of 50,167 votes, too is said to be a candidate for the top job in the state.

He is among the MPs who were asked to contest the state polls by the party, which did not want to take any chances.

Apart from Rajasthan, elections were announced at the same time in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Mizoram, in what was dubbed the semi-final before the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. On Sunday, the BJP won MP and Chhattisgarh as well.

Celebrations broke out at the BJP's Rajasthan headquarters as the party crossed the majority-mark, in terms of trends. Party workers raised slogans hailing Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

IMAGE: Police personnel stand guard outside the Congress office during the counting of votes for the Rajasthan Assembly elections, in Jaipur on Sunday. Photograph: ANI Photo

Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat -- also mentioned as a CM possibility -- took a dig at Gehlot as it became clear from the trends that the BJP would win.

"The 'magic' has ended and Rajasthan has come out of the spell of the magician. People have voted for the honour of women and for the welfare of the poor," he said, alluding to Gehlot's past as a magician's son.

The election in Sriganganagar's Karanpur seat was postponed due to the death of Congress candidate Gurmeet Singh Koonar.

Several colleagues of Gehlot in the state ministry lost as the state lived up to its strong anti-incumbency tradition. Among them was Disaster Management Minister Govind Ram Meghwal, who was also the Congress campaign committee chief.

IMAGE: BJP supporters celebrate as party candidate Siddhi Kumari wins in Bikaner on Sunday. Photograph: ANI Photo

Other losers from the outgoing Congress ministry included Bhanwar Singh Bhati (Kolayat) seat, Shakuntala Rawat (Bansur), Vishvendra Singh (Deeg Kumher), Ramesh Chand Meena (Sapotara), Shale Mohammad (Pokaran), and Udailal Anjana (Nimbahera).

Rajasthan Assembly Speaker C P Joshi lost in Nathdwara to the BJP's Vishvaraj Singh Mewar.

Gehlot won Sardarpura seat in Jodhpur for the sixth time, but with a reduced margin -- 26,396 votes compared 45,597 the last time. He defeated BJP candidate Mahendra Rathore.

In a setback to the BJP, Deputy Leader of Opposition in the Rajasthan assembly Satish Poonia lost the Amber seat to Prashant Sharma of the Congress by 9,092 votes.

Ahead of the elections, both the Congress and BJP struggled with factionalism within their ranks. But the infighting within the Congress was more in the open, with Sachin Pilot mounting a rebellion against Gehlot in 2020.

IMAGE: Outgoing Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot speaks to the media in Jaipur on Sunday. Photograph: ANI Photo

Just ahead of the elections, the party's central leadership ensured a truce between the two.

The BJP targeted the Congress government over communal violence, accusing it also of 'appeasement', corruption and not having a grip on law and order.

Apart from projecting its welfare schemes, the state's ruling party tried to make the Eastern Rajasthan Canal Project a major plank, accusing the BJP-led Centre of not giving it the "promised" national project status.

In the outgoing Assembly, the ruling Congress had 107 MLAs, BJP 70 and Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLPT) three. Also, the CPI(M) and Bhartiya Tribal Party (BTP) had two seats each and the Rashtriya Lok Dal one.

There were 13 independents in the outgoing assembly and two seats (Udaipur and Karanpur) vacant.

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