How Did BJP Sweep Rajasthan Again Despite Congress’ Win in 2018?

How Did BJP Sweep Rajasthan Again Despite Congress’ Win in 2018?

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Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam

In the 2014 polls in Rajasthan, BJP bagged all 25 Lok Sabha seats and they’ve pulled off a consecutive sweep in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. But how did the party manage to do this, a year after the loss in the Assembly polls held in October last year. At the same time, why is it that the Congress, despite winning the state polls was not able to win in the state.

‘Modi tujhse bair nahi, Raje teri khair nahi’ – a slogan from the 2018 Assembly polls correctly summarises the sentiment then and now.

It means while we do not have a problem with PM Narendra Modi, we want the BJP-led Vasundhara Raje government out of power. People voted decisively against Vasundhara Raje and not against Modi. His popularity is something that continues to be very, very strong in Rajasthan. He is seen as somebody who can get work done, an able administrator.

So, when it came to local issues, they were ok with the Congress but when it comes to the Centre they can't think of another alternative to Modi. Especially after Pulwama attack and Balakot strikes, in a border state like Rajasthan, locals feel he is someone they can feel secure and safe under.

We met women in Jodhpur who told us they loved Modi. So his popularity is something that was unfazed by the loss of the BJP in the state. In some ways, one can say that that loss was an aberration and not an indication of a trend which we would see in the 2019 polls. Because quite clearly the BJP has won.

Why Couldn’t Congress Make Gains?

Congress had some prominent faces in the Lok Sabha polls, there was Manvendra Singh, Jaswant Singh's son from Barmer; there was Vaibhav Gehlot, Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot's son, standing from Jodhpur. Then there was Jyoti Mirdha standing from the Nagaur constituency, and Olympian Krishna Poonia standing against Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore in the Jaipur Rural seat.

However, despite these faces, despite Ashok Gehlot going and campaigning for his son repeatedly, the Congress failed to win these seats. I met locals in Jodhpur who said they did not know anything about Ashok Gehlot’s son, Vaibhav. While when we interviewed him, Vaibhav did boast about having more than a decade-long active political life that people were well aware of, in reality people did not know about him and therefore, they decided to not give the CM's son a chance.

This reflects poorly on CM Ashok Gehlot's leadership. What can the Congress do? The Congress can look towards younger leadership. There is Sachin Pilot. But more importantly what the Congress needs to do now is really stop, look at their losses, reflect, introspect on why the losses panned out the way they did.

And they need to do something to fix this ahead of the stateAssembly polls expected in a few years.

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