India is a dynamic nation, if viewed from political lenses. One thing that is constant all the time is elections. Be it any time of the year, some local body or by polls or assembly elections are ongoing. From time to time, this dynamic political status also tests the political parties and presence on the ground.
While the Bharatiya Janata Party seems to be governing the entire of the nation, the grand old party, Congress has shrunk to just states like Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. In the year 2023, the country will see 10 electoral battles and the upcoming Rajasthan elections will pave the way for 2024 general elections. Will Congress be able to save its countable fortresses? Or will the BJP wrest control of them too?
Congress done and dusted in Rajasthan
The Gandhi scion, former Congress President Rahul Gandhi is busy with his Bharat Jodo Yatra. The Bharat Jodo Yatra is nothing more than an attempt by the Congress party to re-launch Rahul Gandhi. However, the Yatra has ended up exposing the anti-national nexus that resides besides the Congress. Along with that, it has also exposed the feuds that exist within the party, be it in Karnataka or Rajasthan.
Read More: Christian missionaries, Rahul Gandhi, George Ponniah: The nexus decoded
Images may have been circulated with Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot and his Deputy Sachin Pilot walking side by side with Rahul Gandhi. However, the situation in Rajasthan is not good for Congress. Rahul Gandhi has called both the leaders ‘assets for the party’.
The party meetings are focused on the issue of leaving factionalism. But the Gehot Vs Pilot situation remains the same. There have been many successful attempts by Pilot to topple the Gehlot government. However, every time he was cajoled by the higher leadership.
Whatever Congress did to dissolve the conflict between Gehlot and Pilot, has somehow kept the Congress government afloat in the state. But the same is going to cost Congress in the upcoming elections due for next year. No one would vote for a party that is not capable of running a stable government for 5 years and a party that invests all the state funds in booking buses and resorts.
Further, the rampant anti-incumbency against Ashok Gehlot would only complement Congress’ downfall in the state. With Congress out of the picture, the ground seems to be clear for the BJP. Along with that, the people of Rajasthan are known to alter between BJP and Congress.
Also read: Congress is inching closer to being reduced as a regional party
What numbers from previous elections suggest?
The state of Rajasthan has never voted any incumbent CM back to power for more than two decades. However, the previous assembly election narrates a different story. In the 2018 assembly elections, the Congress was victorious with 39.30% vote share and the BJP lost with 38.08% votes.
Although, the BJP did fall down from an absolute majority of 163 seats to 76 seats. The party was led by then CM Vasundhra Raje Scindia, who faced strong resentment from the masses. Slogans were risen during the past elections like, ‘Modi tujhse bair nahi, par Rani teri khair nahi’, suggesting that although the people of Rajasthan love Prime Minister Narendra Modi, they were upset with the policies and politics of Raje. The ‘Maharani’ image of Raje is believed to have cost the BJP.
The BJP seems to have realised the mistakes of 2018. The new pitch is ready where, just like Gujarat, the elections would be contested on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s face. The selection of the Chief Minister would be only done post victory. BJP’s top leadership have been visiting the western state, boosting the party cadre to fight on the ground, as only that will take BJP’s juggernaut forward.
The BJP has also strengthened its attack on the Gehlot government on the issues of poor law and order and communal riots, with the ‘Chanakya of Politics’ Amit Shah himself leading the pack. Congress’ infighting will also benefit the BJP, as it did in other states like Gujarat.
Also read: Congress’ power is gone, it’s time for the party to be gone
Social Engineering of the BJP
In the wake of the upcoming assembly elections, the BJP has intensified its preparations. In September 2022, Amit Shah not only visited the state but also addressed the OBC wing’s national executive meeting in Jodhpur. Jodhpur, requires special attention as it is considered as the heartland of Marwar region and it is also the hometown of CM Gehlot.
Through the meeting, it’s evident that the BJP wishes to target the OBC vote bank in the state that makes up 52 per cent of the population and have their influence on more than 150 seats, while only 101 seats are required for majority. The additional factor here is that out of 52, 11 per cent are Jats, and currently out of 55 OBC MLAs in the state, 43 are Jats.
Jats enjoy a major influence on the political domain of Rajasthan and BJP is trying to encash that. It would not be a tough road for the BJP, suggests the Jat support that the party garnered from the Jat belt in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections. One more factor to add to BJP’s effort in the state is Hanuman Beniwal. If BJP and Beniwal fight from the same front, India may witness a game-changing move in the Jat belt.
Read More: Dear BJP, if you are serious about winning Rajasthan, get back Hanuman Beniwal
All that is not good among BSP and Congress
All is not good between Mayawati and the Rajasthan Congress. While the Congress is relaxing with the face of Malikarjun Kharge, believing it would give Congress an edge in Rajasthan pulling the Dalit votes, Mayawati has claimed that the Congress is hurting her party by indulging in horse-trading. It’s peculiar to note that the candidates who won on the BSP ticket in the last elections had their own clout.
In Rajasthan, with the recent feud, it seems unlikely that Congress and BSP will fight from the same front. Thus, ultimately giving an edge to the BJP, as there would be division of votes. The BJP, this time, is also banking upon the ‘Meena factor’.
Amit Shah recently had a meeting with Kirodi Lal Meena, who has a substantial say over Meena votes in the state. The Meena hold a key influence on around 35 seats. There have been Meena-Gurjar clashes in the past. The BJP is believed to be banking upon the same in the region. Experts suggest that BJP this time may wrest control of more than 30 seats in the Meena dominated region, barring some like Tonk.
Road Ahead for the BJP
The BJP has begun to capitalise on the anti-incumbency in the state against Ashok Gehlot. The party is building momentum for the elections due next year with initiatives like the Jan Akrosh Yatra. The BJP’s main focus this time would be regaining its old ground. This includes three factors, tribal votes shifting towards BJP, the labharthi varg and the Hindutva push.
The saffron party has been vocal about rampant communal violence happening in the state. The party has also protested against the demolition of mandirs under the Gehlot government. With this, Hindutva has become evident in Rajasthan.
Secondly, the labharthi varg, or to say the beneficiaries of the central schemes ranging from Ujjwala to Free Ration distribution, have benefitted the saffron party. The same is expected to be repeated in Rajasthan.
With this, two things are for sure, first that the Bharatiya Janata Party is winning Rajasthan. And second is that the Rajasthan elections this time will pave the way for the ultimate decimation of the grand old Congress party.
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