In Rajasthan, rebel trouble for Congress & BJP
The impact of rebels was first seen in 1993 in a hung assembly when the BJP, led by former vice president Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, won 95 seats, falling five short of majority.
The ruling BJP is not immune from the possibility of many candidates turning rebels either, the people said. “Since the contest in Rajasthan is set for a tight finish, both parties would put their stake on the best bet. There will be heartburns which would result in rebels contesting against their own parties,” said Rameshwar Rajpurohit, a political analyst who has tracked four assembly elections.
Out of power for five years, the Congress is likely to witness more rebel candidates than the BJP, said one of the persons cited earlier.
Senior leaders appear to be bracing for the challenge. “Every one can’t get a ticket. But those who work for the party will be suitably adjusted,” said Congress general secretary Ashok Gehlot.
In 2013, the Congress had to expel 17 leaders for turning rebels while the BJP showed the door to 16. The rebel candidates not only won a few seats but also hurt chances of the party’s official candidates in several other seats.
“For the Congress, only Raj Kumar Sharma, who crossed over from the Bahujan Samaj Party to the Congress after winning the 2008 election, could win while others played spoilsport, eating into the party’s votes and reducing it to 21 seats. For the BJP, despite the strong Modi wave, three rebels made it to the assembly to prove their point,” said a senior BJP leader. This time round, the rebel factor may have an even greater impact, especially on seats with thin victory margins, given that there is no perceptible wave in favour of any party.
“In 2013 election, there were 26 seats where victory margin was less than 5,000 votes. On such seats, rebels can swing the results. With the contest looking fierce this time, the party which can manage rebels would be at an advantage,” said veteran journalist Prakash Bhandari.
The impact of rebels was first seen in 1993 in a hung assembly when the BJP, led by former vice president Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, won 95 seats, falling five short of majority. The Congress won 76 seats while 21 seats were bagged by independents, most of them rebels.
“The BJP stitched ties with rebels (mostly from the Congress) to form the government. The situation can be similar this time if this factor is not managed properly,” said a senior Congress leader.