He came, he saw and he conquered.The BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s 21 election campaign rallies saw the Congress reeling. The Gehlot government, which was thriving on the various social security scheme, was made to bite the dust. It was the most humiliating defeat for the Congress and the BJP got more than it wanted. In Rajasthan, the Congress provided one of the highest budgets under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme, gave atta (flour) for Rs two per kilo to the poor, gave free medicines worth Rs 700 crore and gave pension to elders, but nothing worked. It was a landmark elections for both the BJP and the Congress and one could say it was a contest between the highest and the lowest. The BJP secured 162 seats in the Rajasthan Vidhan Sabha election and the Congress could get 21, their lowest in the14 Vidhan Sabha elections. Vasundhara Raje has emerged as the true Maharani.
The BJP got absolute majority and for the second time Vasundhara Raje, under her leadership, got the party the majority on its own, something that the late patriarch Bhairon Singh Shekhawat could not achieve and always formed the government with the help of the Independents. Vasundhara Raje with such a massive mandate would form the government with she playing her second innings as the Chief Minister. The results brought a number of surprises for the Congress. Its vote bank of Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Muslims was looted by the BJP. The Congress that thrived on the Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes and minority votes for all its electoral success since 1952 is now at the receiving end. Barring the minority because of the polarisation caused due to Modi factor, Dalits, it seems, have left the Congress. It was for the first time that the Congress failed to make a single Muslim as MLA. There are 34 SC and 25 ST reserved seats in the state. Collectively, in a House of 200, the reserved seats are almost 30 per cent and this is a very crucial segment for gaining electoral success.
But surprisingly, for the first time in the history, the Congress failed to secure even a single SC seat and out of the 34 seats the BJP bagged 32 seats, while two others went to smaller parties. In the ST seats, the Congress could win only four out of the 25 and three tribal ministers lost the elections.The Muslims voted overwhelmingly for the Congress as they usually do, but no Muslim candidates of the Congress could win. Last time, there were 10 Muslim winners from the Congress. Interestingly, the BJP, which fielded four Muslims as candidates, could win two seats. Muslims had been winning for the Congress.
“It seems the BJP particularly targeted the Muslim candidates where the main opposition was the Congress candidate. But in the Muslim dominant area, the Congress Muslim candidate was opposed by the large number of the Muslim Independents or candidates from the smaller parties and the Congress candidate lost because of the division of votes,” said PCC general secretary Mumtaz Masih. But Manvendra Singh, son of the former Union Minister Jaswant Singh, who is a former member of Lok Sabha and was elected from the Sheo constituency in Barmer, said that it was not true that the Muslims overwhelmingly supported the Congress.“In the border districts of Barmer and Jaisalmer, 40 per cent Muslims voted for the BJP and that made the difference. I won from Sheo, which was known as a constituency of the Muslims and only Muslims used to win from this constituency. I am sure the BJP marginally got Muslim votes in other constituencies also,” he added.
According to the party’s secretary Sooraj Khatri, the blank that the Congress drew in SC seats is a matter of grave concern. He said that the party, it seems, has lost the tribals’ support. Looking at the results, it would be an uphill task for the Congress to win even a single seat in the Lok Sabha election unless it improves. Vasundhara Raje, the scion of the Dholpur royal family, who was entrusted with the job to lead the party’s bandwagon barely 10 months before the poll, went on a Suraj Sankalp Yatra to re-established her contact with the people that helped her party a lot. But she gives full credit to Narendra Modi, who created a Modi wave like a magician and the Congress was swept out of power. There is no doubt that it was Modi who made all the difference and robbed Vasundhara Raje of the credit. Such massive was the BJP victory that the Congress in 17 out of the 33 districts could not even open its account and in 12 districts the party could win just one seat each and in Dholpur and Sikar it could win two seats each, but in the backward district of Karauli, it won three seats.
The Congress drew a blank in Ajmer, Baran, Chittorgarh, Dausa, Ganganagar, Hanumangarh, Jaisalmer, Jhalawar, Tonk, Sirohi, ,Sawai Madhopur, Rajsamand, Pali, Nagaur, Kota, Dungarpur and Pratapgarh districts. It could get one seat each in Alwar, Banswara, Barmer, Bharatpur, Bhilwara, Bundi, Churu, Jaipur, Jalore, Jhunjhunu, Jodhpur and Udaipur. The BJP made a clean sweep in 14 districts and in the home district of Jodhpur, from where Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot comes, the Congress could win only his seat. Union Minister Sachin Pilot, who is MP from Ajmer, drew a blank as not a single seat the Congress could win from this district. In CP Joshi’s own district of Bhilwara, from where he is the MP, the party could win only one seat. Another Union Minister Jitendra Singh, who is the scion of the Alwar royal family and was elected from Alwar, could win only one seat out of the 11 from Alwar.
The Congress also suffered at the hands of the Rashtriya Janata Party (RJP), a party floated by a BJP rebel Dr Kirori Lal Meena. Dr Meena as a BJP rebel damaged the BJP in the last election in the ST constituencies and this time its victim was the Congress. Dr Meena thought he would play the role of a kingmaker in case of a hung Assembly and he expected to win 12 to 15 seats, but finished winning just four. Out of the four, two seats were won by himself and his wife Golma Devi, who was a minister in Gehlot government before resigning last year.
Dr Kirori Lal Meena had been campaigning in the state for the past eight months using a chopper for campaigning. There were speculations that Dr Meena is being funded by the Congress to damage the BJP. But the election results proved that the RJP damaged the Congress most and the presence of Meena’s outfit in the reserved seats and also a few general seats, where the STs were put as candidates by both the parties, caused the rout of the Congress in those seats. Dr Kirori Lal did not enjoy the support of the backwards, which was proved when he lost the Sawai Madhopur seat to BJP’s Diya Kuamari and his wife Golma Devi lost the Mahuva general seat.
The stance of Kirori saw the Gujjars consolidating the BJP and they cast their votes to a party that was in a position to win. The Congress failed to get adequate support of the Gujjar community also. Thus by losing the support of both Meena and Gujjars the party saw itself at the receiving end. Dr Kirori is an Independent member of Lok Sabha from Dausa and he will have to decide whether he wants to be in state politics or be in national politics. Both the parties played the caste factor and disbursed tickets on casteist lines, but the BJP proved that its nominations were better than the Congress.
By PB Chandra from Jaipur