Jaipur, Dec 3 (IANS) Ashok Gehlot, the veteran Congress leader in his capacity as the Chief Minister, failed to put brakes on the state’s ‘political tradition’ of power switching in Assembly polls as the BJP wrested power from the grand old party in Rajasthan again after five years.
While Gehlot and his party were hoping to retain power on the plank of free schemes and guarantees, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which contested the polls without naming its chief ministerial candidate, had the last laugh.
According to political analysts, Prime Minister Narendra Modi leading the election campaign from the front played a crucial role in helping the BJP emerge triumphant in the desert state.
PM Modi during his rallies promised to improve the law and order situation in the state, provide jobs to the youth, besides protecting the Sanatan Dharma.
Analysts believe the stress on Hindutva also played a crucial role in the change of government in Rajasthan.
Not only did the Congress lose Rajasthan, it also conceded defeat to the BJP in Chhattisgarh besides facing a humiliating loss in Madhya Pradesh, where the saffron party swept the polls to retain power.
According to political analysts, the fresh results would pose as a major challenge for the Congress in its preparations for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
One analyst also pointed towards the crisis the Congress had to deal with in 2020, when Gehlot was engaged in a direct face-off with his then deputy Sachin Pilot.
The skirmish between the two top Congress leaders in the state led to the formation of two separate camps, with the leadership of Gehlot facing crises at a certain point.
The face-off between Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot is also believed to have weakened the party’s prospects, the result of which was imminent on Sunday.
In the Assembly polls, Gehlot’s ‘prime competitor’ was PM Modi, whose leading from the front act eventually made the senior Congressman lose power in the desert state.
Besides, top Congress leaders such as ministers Vishvendra Singh, Pratap Singh Khachariyawas, B.D. Kalla, Ramlal Jat and Bhanwarlal Bhati also lost the polls.
Analysts believe BJP’s aggressive campaigning worked in its favour.
Besides issues related to Sanatan Dharma and Hindutva, the BJP also focused on youth-centric matters. The issues of unemployment and corruption were highlighted and discussed during the rallies.
The BJP also spoke about reconsideration of the old pension scheme (OPS) which is believed to have given the party a major boost to its prospects in the Assembly polls.
Also, the BJP focused on strengthening the party, with the Sangh taking command of the “weaker seats”.
Even as questions were initially raised if the party would lead a successful campaign by putting PM Modi on front, the BJP managed to win without projecting any of its leaders as the chief ministerial face.
The saffron party also cashed in on the dispute between Gehlot and Pilot camps.
It tried to gain the Gujjars’ vote by claiming injustice was done to Sachin Pilot and his father, late Rajesh Pilot.
Besides, the Hindu vote bank was also polarised through the Kanhaiya Lal murder case.
The party did not field a single Muslim candidate.
It also tried to present the Hindutva image by giving tickets to three saints — Baba Balaknath, Mahant Pratap Puri and Balmukund Acharya, and all of them won by big margins.
What also did not go well for the Congress was Sachin Pilot remaining confined to his area, or within his supporters only.
Another key reason behind the defeat of Congress is its performance in east Rajasthan. Of the 50 seats in Jaipur division, Congress had won 34 seats in 2018. This time, the numbers fell significantly.
Besides, the Congress also suffered a crushing defeat in Mewar and Marwar regions.
PM Modi’s stress on “double-engine government” during the rallies also worked in BJP’s favour.
Among the issues on which Congress was contesting the elections, except for the Chiranjeevi Yojana, the rest of the benefits did not reach the public. There was a lot of delay in implementing schemes like free mobile, free ration kit, Indira Rasoi in the rural areas.