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Rajasthan: How BJP's Polarisation Campaign Decided Fate of Seven Assembly Seats

The Quint looks at how the BJP's polarising campaign in Rajasthan determined the fate of seven state assembly seats.

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A glimpse of the saffron party's polarising campaign was seen in the recently-concluded Rajasthan Assembly Election which saw the party win 115 seats out of a total 200 on Sunday, 3 December.

According to the 2011 census, Muslims make up around 9 percent of Rajasthan's population.

According to a recent report by the Washington-based research group Hindutva Watch, Rajasthan, along with Madhya Pradesh, ranked third among Indian states in terms of anti-Muslim hate speech in the first half of 2023.

The BJP's campaign in the state was tailored around the party's overall Hindutva pitch.

The Quint looks at how the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) pro-Hindutva campaign in Rajasthan determined the fate of seven state assembly seats - Tijara, Pokaran, Hawa Mahal, Kaman, Karauli, Udaipur and Masuda.

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The saffron party gave tickets to controversial Hindutva leaders figures who made communal statements on multiple occasions during the election campaign. 

According to data from the India Today My Axis India exit poll, Muslims seem to have consolidated behind the Congress, that is, 83 percent as compared to 62 percent in 2018 as per CSDS (Centre for the Study of Developing Societies) - an increase of 21 percent.

There are 21 seats which have significant minority influence. This shows that significant vote consolidation could likely have happened along religious lines.

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Tijara

From Tijara, which falls under the Alwar Lok Sabha, the Congress Party fielded Imran Khan, a Muslim candidate, against the BJP's Baba Balak Nath, the face of Hindutva in Rajasthan and a Nath sect seer. Balak Nath defeated Khan by a margin of 6173 votes.

Both Balak Nath and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath belong to the same sect. The popularity of Adityanath in Uttar Pradesh and the consolidation of the BJP's politics in the state under him have spurred the BJP to field an increasing number of Hindutva leaders and Hindu saints in elections.

Balak Nath, a member of parliament from Alwar, Rajasthan, won the 2019 elections by a massive margin of three lakh votes over Bhanwar Jitendra Singh of the Indian National Congress.

Sandeep Kumar of the BSP won the Tijara seat in 2018, while Aimaduddin Ahmad Khan Urf Durru Mian of the Congress finished second. Maman Singh of the BJP won the seat in 2013, with Fazal Hussain of the BSP finishing second.

Balak Nath banked mainly on Yadav Hindu votes in Tijara, whereas Khan relied heavily on Muslim votes, particularly Meo and scheduled caste votes. Yogi Adityanath's campaigning for him is likely to have aided him in polarising Hindu votes. 

Balak Nath is widely seen as the front-runner for the CM position, ahead of veteran politicians such as Vasundhara Raje and Rajendra Rathore. 

The BJP ran one of the most communal campaigns in the state in Tijara, Balak Nath's constituency.

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Balak Nath banked mainly on Yadav Hindu votes in Tijara, whereas Khan relied heavily on Muslim votes, particularly Meo and scheduled caste votes. Yogi Adityanath's campaigning for him is likely to have aided him in polarising Hindu votes. 

Balak Nath is widely seen as the front-runner for the CM position, ahead of veteran politicians such as Vasundhara Raje and Rajendra Rathore. 

The BJP ran one of the most communal campaigns in the state in Tijara, Balak Nath's constituency. Balak Nath compared the BJP and Congress to India and Pakistan at one of his election speeches, saying, "Match Pakistan ke saath jeetna hai ki nahi? (Don't we have to win the match against Pakistan?)" he asked his supporters.

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Pokaran 

From Pokaran, the BJP fielded Mahant Pratap Puri, the chief priest of the Taratara sect of Barmer, who defeated Saleh Mohammad, the minority affairs minister in the Congress government, by a significant margin of 35,427 votes.

Puri, who comes from a Rajput family, wields considerable power among Rajput voters in the region. 

Both ran against each other in the last election, with Mohammad winning by a razor-thin margin of 872 votes. Mohammad is the son of Gazi Fakeer, a prominent religious leader of the Sindhi Muslim community.

Mohammad relied primarily on his father’s clout among the region's Sindhi Muslims. However, with Fakeer’s death, this influence has been impacted severely.

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Hawa Mahal

In Jaipur, the BJP fielded seer Bal Mukund Acharya as their candidate from the Hawa Mahal constituency, who defeated Congress candidate RR Tiwari by a margin of 974 votes.

Acharya rose to prominence on social media recently for his campaign to "save Jaipur's Hindu temples."

Despite not being a party member, Acharya was given a ticket over several heavyweights. His claim to the ticket was a campaign he started for the upkeep of Hindu temples in Jaipur which he claimed were in ruins due to "appeasement" politics.

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Kaman Constituency

In the Kaman constituency, after a see-saw battle between independent candidate Mukhtyar Ahmad and Nauksham of the BJP, Nauksham won by a margin of 13906 votes, with Congress candidate Zahida Khan finishing third.

Kaman falls under the Bharatpur Lok Sabha constituency, which the BJP currently holds.

In the 2018 Rajasthan elections, the Congress candidate Zahida Khan won the Kaman seat, while the BJP contender Jawahar Singh Beadham finished second.

The loss for the Congress is crucial because Muslims in the constituency are unhappy with Khan over the kidnapping and burning of two Muslims, Junaid, and Nasir, allegedly by members of the Bajrang Dal.

Khan had promised each victim Rs. 20.5 lakh, but the families told The Quint that they had only got Rs 5 lakh, with the remaining Rs 15.5 lakh still pending.

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Karauli 

BJP's Darshan Singh defeated Congress' Lakhan Singh Meena by a margin of 2183 votes in Karauli, which saw communal violence on 2 April 2022 during a 'Shobha Yatra'.

In 2018, Lakhan Singh Meena won the election on a BSP ticket with a margin of 9,000 votes against Congress’s Darshan Singh. In 2013, Darshan Singh of Congress won the seat by a margin of 17,167 votes 

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Udaipur and Masuda

In the Udaipur assembly constituency, where both the Congress and the BJP invoked the brutal hacking of 50-year-old tailor Kanhaiya Lal Sahu in Udaipur in June 2022, BJP candidate Tarachand Jain defeated Congress candidate Gourav Vallabh by a margin of 32,771 votes. Since 2003, the saffron party has held the constituency.

In the Masuda constituency of Ajmer district, the BJP Abhishek Singh has lost his election ticket after controversy arose regarding his religious identity.

Singh, who claims to be a Rawat-Rajput and a follower of Hinduism, was replaced by Virendra Singh Kanawat after reports circulated on social media that he is Muslim. Singh won by a margin of 26,716 votes against the congress candidate.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  BJP   Politics   Rajasthan 

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