After the loss in 2018 assembly elections, many analysts had written off BJP’s chances in Lok Sabha in 2019 General elections. However, it seems those prophecies were rather premature. In recent weeks, several trends have emerged which suggest BJP has rapidly gained the lost ground.
In spite of the criticism the grand old party is getting for its blatant dynastic politics, the party leaders just aren’t bothered. This election, ranging from P Chidambaram’s son Karthi to Kamal Nath’s son Nakul Nath; a hoard of Congress leaders have fielded their sons. The latest candidature comes from Rajasthan with Ashok Gehlot, the CM of Rajasthan, fielding his son Vaibhav Gehlot from Jodhpur. Congress was already on a back foot in Rajasthan ever since BJP and RLP had announced their alliance together. Hanuman Beniwal, RLP head, and former BJP leader is quite popular in the state and had declared his party to be a part of NDA, contesting from Nagaur seat.
Ashok Gehlot, as the CM is focusing solely on Jodhpur, to ensure that his son gets elected to the Lok Sabha from there. Such is his exclusive focus, that BJP has branded him “Dhritrashtra”, being blind for his son and ignoring the rest. With no political standing of his own, Vaibhav Gehlot is banking on his father’s legacy to garner votes in Jodhpur. Ashok Gehlot has been garnering support through door-to-door campaigning for his son. He has been exploiting her personal contacts in various communities built over the past 40 years. Congress sources told IANS, “Since April 21, Gehlot has been camping in Jodhpur and reaching out to people via bulk SMSes requesting them to vote for his son.” One of his messages reads, “Friends, Congress candidate Vaibhav Gehlot needs your blessings and votes. Although I could not meet you in person, I request you to vote for Vaibhav to ensure his victory. Ashok Gehlot.”
“Just like Dhritrashtra, the Chief Minister seems to have gone blind in his son’s love. He is camping in Jodhpur leaving aside all work,” said former BJP MLA Rao Rajendra Singh. Former BJP Minister Arun Chaturvedi said, “Jodhpur is a prestige battle for Gehlot, who has put the entire state machinery behind Vaibhav. But the Modi factor will overpower everything”.
Cowards. What a Bhasmasuri party!Has no vision. No guts. Messed it up in Delhi. A very rude shock awaits them in Rajasthan as Gehlot just campaigning for his son and diverting all resources there. The regional satraps dont listen to Rahul or he doesnt have the authority. https://t.co/XSXGXmq0gU
— Abhisar Sharma (@abhisar_sharma) April 25, 2019
The Congress supporters, including the likes of Abhisar Sharma, are criticising Rahul Gandhi and the state leadership. Everyone believes that this exclusive emphasis of Gehlot on his son is going to have drastic ramifications for Congress in the state.
However, the door-to-door exclusive campaigning doesn’t seem to be reaping any positive benefits for the Gehlot or the party. As confirmed by a Congress leader, significant communities of Jodhpur are unhappy with Gehlot. These include Jats, Bishnois and even Malis. Vaibhav Gehlot has even failed to impress the youth. In striking contrast to this, Hanuman Beniwal is quite popular among these communities. He has emerged as a star campaigner for BJP by stating, “My roots have been in the BJP and, therefore, I am more comfortable with the BJP.”
Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, the candidate for BJP in the constituency is “fluent in the local dialect and knows how to win the hearts of the locals”. Moreover, he has already proved his leadership when he had contested from the seat in 2014, garnering immense popularity and support had defeated Congress’ Chandresh Kumari by over four lakh votes.
The difference in public support by the two political parties comes to light in the rallies, which is the most popular method of gauging leader-public relations. Keeping this in mind, there was a start contrast in BJP’s public support as compared to Congress’ support.
जोधपुर ने इतना अपार जनसमूह नहीं देखा आज श्री @gssjodhpur जी के समर्थन में एक एक व्यक्ति आया है @AmitShah ji @VasundharaBJP @AmitShahOffice आप की उपस्तिथि ने कार्यकर्ताओं में जोश भर दिया है । #jodhpur #BJP pic.twitter.com/886mLMgeIs
— Pratyush Joshi (@pratyush_joshi) April 26, 2019
This is an image of Amit Shah’s roadshow in Jodhpur yesterday. The crowd stretched on for half a kilometer and also extended from the road to the surrounding buildings. It seemed as though the entire city had come to witness it.
To counter the road show, Ashok Gehlot had campaigned in the city all day long yesterday.
Ashok gehlot rally.. Then they will say EVM has been hacked.. pic.twitter.com/qAeMfod4sg
— Chowkidar NaMo_2019 (@newIndia_2019) April 26, 2019
As is clearly visible, the outreach of Gehlot is very less as compared to Amit Shah and witnessed a few bystanders loitering around here and there. Seeing the success of Amit Shah’s road show, Gehlot, green with envy has organized the same road show for his son, to be held on Saturday.
The current public opinion gets further reinforced when taking a look at Phalodi, the betting market of the country, in the vicinity of Shekhawat’s constituency; which envisages a BJP run from Jodhpur.
Back in 2014, BJP had swept all the seats in Rajasthan and despite having lost the assembly polls in the state in December, the party seems to have become stronger in the state. The return of Hanuman Beniwal to the party fold has further boosted BJP’s chances. Beniwal had made a crucial dent in BJP’s vote share after his defection before the assembly elections. With Gehlot expanding all the party efforts on one constituency, for his personal political gain, the rest of Rajasthan Congress is left to fend for itself. The irony of the situation, however, is, when the entire party’s efforts focusing on just one constituency are also not reaping any positive electoral benefits.