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Congress plans to woo all as BJP eyes second term in poll-bound Rajasthan

The north Indian state has not elected the same party for a consecutive term in the last 25 years.

, ET Bureau|
Aug 24, 2018, 09.08 AM IST
Farmers are at the centre stage of this election. Both parties are trying to woo this community which forms 70% of electorates.
The ruling BJP and Congress are locked in an interesting battle in Rajasthan which has never given a consecutive term for a party in the last 25 years. Rituraj Tiwari gives an update on the state:

BJP has been grappling with a heavy anti-incumbency factor. This was strongly reflected in the bypoll results since 2013 when BJP swept Rajasthan, bagging 163 of the 200 assembly seats. In the last eight by-elections, the Congress, which was reduced to 21 seats, has been able to win 6 by-polls. In February this year, Congress trounced BJP 3-0 in the by-elections held for the parliamentary constituencies of Alwar, Ajmer and Mandalgarh. These by-elections saw a drastic shrink in BJP votes. While in Alwar, BJP’s vote percentage dropped by more than 20% to 40.07% compared to the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Ajmer saw BJP votes shrink 12%. This clearly indicates huge resentment among voters.

Farmers are at the centre stage of this election. Both parties are trying to woo this community which forms 70% of electorates. BJP is facing ire from them as it has so far failed to implement the Rs 8,000-crore debt waiver package which the CM had announced in her last budget. Over the past three months, six farmers have reportedly committed suicide alleging mounting farm debt, taking the tally to over 100 under this BJP rule. Farmers are also perturbed over the non procurement of agri produce at Minimum Support Price (MSP). Garlic producers from Hadauti, which Raje represents, were the worst sufferers with prices crashing as low as Rs 5/kg.

Voter turnout & share

Gujjar agitation has been a big poll issue since the past three elections. This nomadic community, dominantly present in eastern Rajasthan, has been demanding 5% quota in government jobs under the Most Backward Classes (MBC) category. Over the past 11 years, more than 70 lives have been lost and hundreds of crores of public property got damaged during the violent agitation by Gujjars. The issue is still alive. They have threatened to start a fresh agitation.

Besides Gujjars, another dominant caste, the Rajputs, who were once BJP loyalists, are also deserting it. The community, which comprises 7% of the state’s population, is annoyed over the alleged fake encounter of a Rajput gangster Anandpal, row over movie ‘Padmaavat’ and government’s dispute with the Jaipur royal family owned Hotel Raj Mahal Palace. A section of Rajputs has announced to oppose BJP with a campaign - Kamal Ka Phool, Hamari Bhool. Other dominant castes like Meenas (12%), Jats (14%), SCs (17%) and Brahmins (3%) are also important as they can swing votes. BJP is set to gain some Meena votes after it brought back Kirori Lal Meena to its fold.

House composition

There has been a ‘cold war’ brewing between former chief minister Ashok Gehlot and state Congress chief Sachin Pilot over leadership issues. Recently, the infighting came out in the open with Gehlot loyalists openly demanding to project him as the CM face. The Pilot camp also retaliated ending up in a dirty war of words between second rung of leaders of opposite camps. This dichord may cost the party dearly.
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