With Vasundhara Raje tendering her resignation as chief minister on Tuesday, 11 December, Rajasthan has maintained its electoral predictability as 99 constituencies voted for the Congress to form a government in the state.
However, BJP’s Raje won by a notable margin from Jhalrapatan, her bastion in the Jhalawar district, for a fourth consecutive term.
Who was Raje Contesting Against?
Raje was contesting against Congress' Manvendra Singh. A politically relevant figure, his father Jaswant Singh was not only a founding member of the BJP but a tall Rajput leader in Mewar. Bridges began to burn between Jaswant Singh and Raje when the BJP did not give the founding member a ticket to stand for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. In October, Manvendra quit the BJP to join the saffron party’s rivals two months before the Rajasthan Assembly election.
Traditionally Manvendra’s stronghold is almost 700 km west of Jhalrapatan in Barmer. But, the Congress high command asked him to head to Jhalrapatan to take on Raje, and he obliged to contest from a seat that was relatively unknown to him.
Was Raje’s Win a Thumping Victory?
Although she won by a lead of about 35,000, did Manvendra cut into Raje’s support? In the last three state Assembly elections, Raje had consistently increased her vote margins from Jhalrapatan.
In 2003, Raje had won against Rama Pilot of the Congress by more than 27,000 votes.
In 2008, Raje had defeated Congress’ Mohan Lal by 32,581 votes.
In 2013, she won against Meenakshi Chandrawat of the Congress by almost 61,000 votes.
This time, the vote margin by which Raje won over Manvendra Singh is nearly half of what it was in the last Assembly election, from 61,000 to 35,000.
While it is true that the BJP leader had to tackle anti-incumbency for three terms, Congress’ decision to field Manvendra Singh – who had told The Quint that he was “realistic about his possibilities" – may have hit Raje’s popularity this assembly election.