Rajasthan Bypolls: In a setback to BJP, Congress wins all three seats


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In a major jolt to the ruling BJP Congress on Thursday won all three bypoll seats--the Lok Sabha constituencies of Ajmer and Alwar and the Assembly seat of Mandalgarh--in Rajasthan. All three seats were held by BJP.

The results have come as a big setback for the ruling BJP, six weeks after a narrow win in Gujarat. In Alwar, Congress candidate Karan Singh Yadav won by a margin of over 1.44 lakh votes over his nearest rival, Jaswant Yadav from the BJP. Yadav is a minister in the government. In Ajmer Lok Sabha bypoll, Congress candidate Raghu Sharma won by a margin of 81,223 votes and defeated Ramswaroop Lamba of the BJP. Moreover, in Mandalgarh Congress candidate Vivek Dhakad emerged as the winner after defeating BJP’s Shakti Singh Hada by a margin of 2,976 votes.

The by-polls were crucial for both BJP and Congress and also a prestige battle for Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, who s battling an anti-incumbency factor ahead of Assembly elections due later this year. Both Raje and Congress leader Sachin Pilot had been campaigning hard in all three constituencies.

Even before the final scores were out Rajasthan Congress Chief Sachin Pilot called it a victory of people and workers, “ CM Raje should resign on moral grounds as she has failed to appease voters over religion. BJP should learn that polarising over caste does not help", Pilot said.

Former Congress chief minister and AICC general secretary Ashok Gehlot who was also seen active in the field said, “The reverse counting of Modi rule had begun from Gujarat and now it is visible in Rajasthan.”

Moreover, Rajput Sabha, Rajput Karni Sena and Rawana Rajput organisations have hailed the victory of the Congress.

Three Factors that made BJP lose:

The Rajputs who have been known for being hardcore BJP supporters in Rajasthan had withdrawn their support from the saffron party, owing to the release of Padmaavat across India and police encounter of the most wanted gangster Anandapal whom Rajput community made into a symbol of strength.

Moreover, the BJP was also fighting with the deceived Gujjars community after they failed to meet their demand for 5% reservation. However, to woo the Gujjar community, a major vote bank in Ajmer, Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje’s daughter in law Niharka who belongs to Gujjar community was seen campaigning actively. Similarly, Congress Chief Sachin Pilot who also hails from Gujjar community was seen actively on the ground.

Similarly, in Alwar which was in news after repeated Cow Vigilante attacks in 2017, Congress had BJP of trying to polarize voters. Meo Muslims a major community had also extended their support to Congress after BJP did nothing to stop attacks on Muslims in incidents mostly linked to cow vigilantes.

Notably, the BJP had won all the 25 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state in the 2014 general elections. By-polls took place after the seats went vacant after the death of two BJP parliamentarians - Sanwar Lal Jat and Mahant Chandnath from Alwar seat last year. Whereas assembly seat of Mandalgarh fell vacant after MLA Kirti Kumari died after suffering from swine flu in 2017.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted a congratulatory message following the party’s overwhelming victory in the bypolls:

"Well done Rajasthan Congress! Proud of each and every one of you. This is a rejection of the BJP by the people of Rajasthan," tweeted Congress president Rahul Gandhi.

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Jossey Saldanha, Mumbai Sat, February-3-2018, 6:45
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