Will Rajasthan see a break in the 20-year trend of alternating between the BJP and the Congress governments every consecutive term, as the state goes to polls on 7 December?
With anti-incumbency, communal and caste disharmony, agrarian crisis and political infighting looming large over the Vasundhara Raje government, Rajasthan is the best bet for the Congress among the five states – Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Mizoram – that go into elections starting mid-November.
Even as the five state elections are being seen as a litmus test for the Modi-led NDA government before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress is confident to clean sweep the state polls in Rajasthan, which was one of the strongest bastions of the BJP that won 163 out of 200 seats in 2013.
While both the parties are putting their best foot forward, here’s a look at the key players, the pertinent issues and the crucial factors that dominate the 15th Assembly elections in the state.
With a population of 6.86 crores, according to the 2011 census, Rajasthan holds 200 Assembly constituencies and 25 Lok Sabha seats. The state is primarily divided into nine regions – Ajmer State, Hadoti, Dhundhar, Gorwar, Shekhawati, Mewar, Marwar, Vagad and Mewat.
Rajasthan has alternated between the BJP and Congress governments since the 1998 Assembly elections. The saffron party, in 2013, had secured a historic mandate with Vasundhara Raja as the CM face, winning more than 80 percent of the 200 constituencies and pocketing more than 46 percent of the vote share, which showed a surge of nearly 11 percent in its performance since the 2008 election.
The BJP’s exceptional performance in Assembly elections was further consolidated in the Lok Sabha elections held in April-May 2014 where the party managed to bag all the 25 constituencies, amassing support of more than 55 percent of the electorate.
Worth noting, the only other occasion when a party won all 25 Lok Sabha seats in Rajasthan was in 1984 by the Congress who could achieve the target in the polls held closely after the assassination of Indira Gandhi.
The Congress, which is the principle rival party in the state, suffered humiliating defeat in both the elections.
However, the anti-incumbency wave against Vasundhara Raje seems to have hit Rajasthan strong since the Congress, which was reduced to 21 seats in 2013, managed to win 6 by-polls held since then. The latter trounced the BJP 3-0 in the recently held bypolls in Alwar, Ajmer and Mandalgarh.