Rajasthan: Expect a direct showdown between Congress and BJP

The outcome of the vote for the State’s 25 seats holds significant implications for both the BJP and the Congress-led INDIA bloc.

Published : Jun 03, 2024 21:16 IST - 3 MINS READ

Political activists for the BJP and Congress sit under a tree in Barmer, Rajasthan, on April 26.

Political activists for the BJP and Congress sit under a tree in Barmer, Rajasthan, on April 26. | Photo Credit: Elke Scholiers

“The only wave that is present is a heat wave,” observed a political commentator, wryly, from Rajasthan. The observation is not far from the truth as Rajasthan, along with other States in northern and western India, is in the grip of extreme heatwaves. Though voting in all 25 seats was conducted in the first two phases in April, saving voters from the brunt of the May weather, the “heat” generated in the campaigns, especially those of the BJP, generated a lot of unease. The fate of 266 candidates will be decided on June 4 including that of 19 women candidates.

By and large, the 2024 election is a direct contest between the Congress and the BJP but with a minor difference. The Congress is fighting as part of the INDIA bloc and has conceded two seats to its coalition partners. Whereas the BJP is going alone on all the 25 seats. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has fielded candidates for all the seats.

Also Read | Rajasthan: Modi magic on test

The outcome of voting for the 25 seats in Rajasthan bears significance for both the BJP and the Congress-led INDIA bloc. The BJP is looking forward to a hattrick in all the seats, while the Congress is hoping to reclaim at least some of the seats this time along with its INDIA bloc partners, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP). The Congress also has an understanding with the Bharat Adivasi Party in Banswara and some of the tribal (reserved) seats.

The election and campaign in the State would be remembered for more than one reason. It was in the reserved seat of Banswara that Prime Minister Narendra Modi railed at the Congress, accusing the party of redistributing wealth and handing it over to Muslims. It was here that he referred to Muslims as “ghuspathiye” or intruders and cautioned women to hold on to their mangalsutras. Under normal circumstances, any ordinary citizen would have turned to the provisions of 153 A but the Election Commission chose to look the other way.

Party candidates also played a role in stirring up controversies. Jyoti Mirdha, the party’s candidate from Nagaur exhorted voters to give a majority to the BJP so that constitutional amendments could be carried out in the nation’s interest. Mirdha is one among the five women candidates fielded by the BJP in Rajasthan. She faces a tough contest against Hanuman Beniwal, RLP chief and INDIA bloc ally. The Congress and the Left are fully backing Beniwal on this seat. Of the eight Assembly segments here, the Congress has a hold on four, BJP on two, and an independent and the RLP on one each. Winning Nagaur is therefore important for the BJP.

Anti-incumbency?

The other seats to watch out for are Jalore where Vaibhav Gehlot, son of Congress leader Ashok Gehlot is contesting, Sikar, where Amra Ram, a four-time MLA of the CPI(M) and INDIA bloc candidate is pitched against Swami Sumedhanand, and Bhilwara, where senior Congress leader and former Union Minister C.P. Joshi is trying his luck against BJP general secretary Damodar Agarwal. In Banswara, the BJP has fielded Congress turncoat Mahendrajeet Singh Malviya who faces Bharat Adivasi Party’s RajKumar Roat, who is a two-term MLA.

Also Read | INDIA bloc gathers steam in Rajasthan

It cannot be denied that there isn’t any anti-incumbency: the BJP fielded new faces on more than 56 per cent of the seats. It changed candidates on 11 of the 25 seats and fielded four Central Ministers. There are, however, expectations that the Congress’ vote share will improve.

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