Rajasthan Elections & Three 'R's: Can Congress and Sachin Pilot Get Them Right?

Pilot's upper hand in the state will require immediate addressing of the three R's: redress, revamp, reach out.

5 min read
Hindi Female

Barely 14 months away from the next assembly polls, the currently concluded Student Union election in the state of Rajasthan has already set alarm bells ringing within the Congress.

Months after the poll shocker in all five states of Punjab, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Goa and Manipur and now the major setback of the student wing—The National Student Union of India (NSUI)—the Indian National Congress (INC) has regrouped itself and launched a massive outreach programme - ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ on 7 September.


It has, thus, become critical for the Congress to retain its position in Rajasthan not only because of the huge oscillation of power it witnessed in the last five elections but also to dispel the ongoing chatter of an unspelt rift between the party’s tallest leaders of the state—Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Former Deputy CM Sachin Pilot.

With speculations being rife surrounding Gehlot's promotion to Delhi, stakes are high for Sachin Pilot to lead the tough fight against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Rajasthan.

However, Pilot's seemingly upper hand in the state will require immediate addressing of the three R's in order to make the party's case strong.

Redressal, revamping, and reaching out.


Redressal Of Public Grievances

Indian politics over the years has seen voters develop a natural dislike for the ruling or the incumbents, often stirring the pot for ‘anti-incumbency’ sentiments.These seem to be justified as governments generally fail to ensure last-mile delivery as promised previously. However, the last few years have seen how political parties cleverly and craftily managed to buck it - even in those states that have seen a flip-flop of powers.

The Left Democratic Front (LDF) in Kerala, BJP in Uttarakhand & Uttar Pradesh are prime examples of how they challenge the periodic power oscillations in the state. Other parties including All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Biju Janata Dal (BJD) also managed to roar back to power.

Then what makes them storm back to power even after a deluge of anti-incumbency? Most of them, if not all have implemented an aggressive redressal mechanism to pacify the anti-government sentiments before going to the polls.

Months before the state elections, TMC chief Mamata Banerjee in Bengal had launched an influential online campaign titled programme ‘Didi Ke Bolo’ enabling citizens to directly lodge concerns and voice their grievances to her by filing e-complaints.

Manohar Lal Khattar's BJP government in Haryana also worked on similar lines six months ahead of polls by launching SARAL portal to resolve public problems timely.


REDRESSAL IS A Tried And Tested Winning Formula

Therefore, taking cues from its counterparts, the Congress government in Rajasthan - should plan in advance on building a strong network committed to redressing the long-pending public grievances.

This will definitely give birth to a new ‘voting bloc’ and mobilise it to cast votes in favour. A campaign around ‘undoing’ all the mistakes so far and ‘addressing the complaints routinely over the next 14 months can prove beneficial to the Congress for regaining its lost ground.

Not just organisationally, but even at the outset of leadership, the party needs to amend several things. When a party works towards achieving the ‘redressal goal’, it needs a new face to counter the damages. Luckily, Rajasthan Congress has one- Sachin Pilot.

Pilot who CM has previously proved his capabilities in the state as a Deputy CM, played a crucial role in burgeoning the party from having 21 MLAs in 2013 to 100 MLAs in 2018 and steering the party to power.



The century-old party has always been sceptical to overhaul its organisational structure. Looking at states like Rajasthan, surrounded by five Indian states and neighbouring Pakistan, it is a politically diverse state to govern .

Currently, the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) has one State President attached to 7 Vice Presidents. The seven zones across the state besides showing cultural diversity house different aspirations of voters. Adding a new layer altogether of having Working Presidents at different zones months ahead of elections will surely give them ample time for nurturing the new system

Holding Fort Amid Shifting Sands

To understand the shifting dynamics of the political terrain, the region Marwar in Western Rajasthan comprising Nagaur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer among others sends 43 lawmakers. The region stands dotted with a Jat-Rajput divide from the time of Independence.

Therefore, any leader who can appease and strike a chord with both the Rajputs and Jat voters makes for the best bet in the zone and should be given the responsibility to head it. Similarly, a tribal leader is the need of the hour in the Southern part of the state inhabited by a remarkable Adivasi populace.


Communication Is the Key

What made BJP stand out election after election is peddling of a consistent narrative and nailing its communication game.

While the Congress doesn’t lack one, it has serious loopholes to fill in its mass outreach mechanism. Therefore, working on fostering communication skills and effective outreach can be a great move towards inspiring a paradigm shift in the ‘alternating state’. The current ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ could very well prove to be a litmus test for the party’s show of soft skills' strength.


Reaching Out to Beneficiaries

Despite the state of Rajasthan historically putting incumbents at a disadvantage, the newly emerging voting group in the Indian political spectrum may cater to the Congress in a big way. The populist welfare schemes in New India have created a bunch of ‘class voters’ as - beneficiaries - who tend to end up supporting those who offered them SOPs vis-a-vis such schemes in the first place.

The Congress-run government in the state, alone through its flagship schemes, has garnered over lakhs of beneficiaries in the state.But unlike the BJP, Congress has never been able to map those beneficiaries and repurpose them to generate a vote bank.

However, extraordinary times demand extraordinary methods. Reaching out to one’s beneficiaries with a strong message could very well turn the battle to one’s favour.


Paradigm For Neo- Governance

Micro-level targeting of voters through the State Resident Data Hub (SRD) depository has enabled the incumbents to access and use databases to advertise, devise run propaganda strategies and influence voters - and Congress mustn’t be shy of using such ready tools.

The ruling Congress in the state should not leave the gold mine of data untapped if it wants to retain its throne.

However, as is often said, elections are all about narratives, perceptions and timing but all the three listed approaches have proved to be a game changer for several parties in the past across lengths and breadths. With the elections in Rajasthan a little over a year away, the party can certainly benefit with such an approach, especially with Sachin Pilot as the poster face.

(Amrit Pandey is a political researcher and former student of election campaign and democracy from the University of London and Talha Rashid is a Delhi-based political researcher. Views are personal. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)

(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.)

Read Latest News and Breaking News at The Quint, browse for more from opinion

Speaking truth to power requires allies like you.
Become a Member
3 months
12 months
12 months
Check Member Benefits
Read More