The bypoll in Rajasthan following the death of sitting MPs has triggered a storm against Vasundhara Raje with many demanding her resignation. In a major setback to the party, BJP lost Lok Sabha by-polls in Ajmer and Alwar constituencies to the opposition Congress by considerable margins. Both of these seats were earlier held by the BJP. The third seat Mandalgarh was also lost.
The result of the by-poll has just brought to light a phenomenon that had been brewing for a while. The rise of Sachin Pilot in the backdrop of rising lawlessness and lack of effective governance in Rajasthan is very evident. The Rajasmand killing, in which a labourer from West Bengal was hacked and then burnt to death in December last year, had brought the government a lot of flak from the opposition. Further, a number of cases of lynching, murder, hate crimes and communal violence have highlighted the lack of governance and law and order situation under the Vasundhara Raje government. The cases of corrupt and generally ineffective bureaucracy, which are at times blown out of proportion by the media, have also added fuel to the fire.
Their personal shortcomings compounded by Sachin Pilot’s performance driven politics was the perfect lesson for the BJP and at the right time. Although Sachin Pilot was not contesting, the Congress campaign was focused around him. Pilot’s bag of goodies included building an airport, establishing a central university and starting train services from Ajmer to Pushkar.
On the other hand, under Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, there is a feeling of discontent and anger amongst the farmers, employees, workers and all other sections of Rajasthan.
This has been recognized even by the party workers who have demanded a change in the party’s leadership and have written a letter to the party president, Amit Shah. The letter was written by the BJP’s president of Kota OBC cell Ashok Choudhary who in his letter wrote that Vasundhara Raje has steered the party on a path from where defeat seems inevitable. He demanded the ouster of Vasundhara Raje. He also hit out at BJP state president Ashok Parnami, alleging that he works like a “slave” of the CM.
Given the by-poll result, Choudhary’s words should be taken as a warning. With just a couple of months left for elections in Rajasthan, this defeat not only shows the preparation or the lack of it on the part of BJP and the rising prominence of Congress but also sets a negative momentum for the elections. The by-poll defeat is a signal of the discontent in people and if not tackled now, will set the stage for the defeat of BJP. It is not just about the defeat but also the margin with which BJP lost. It lost Alwar by more than 1.9 lakh votes and Ajmer by more than 80,000 votes.
It will not be a surprise for anyone if a similar pattern is formed in the Rajasthan Assembly elections. The party high command needs to take this warning seriously and do what it takes to save the day in Rajasthan, even if that means dismissing the towering personalities. The party needs to send strong messages to the people and assure that it stands for proper and law bound governance. The BJP won the last state assembly elections with a three fourth majority. It might be difficult to repeat the same performance but the party should at least win with a comfortable majority so that it does not set a negative tone for the 2019 general elections. Losing Rajasthan assembly elections could mean a lot more damage to the Lok Sabha elections for the BJP.