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Congress May Fail to Capitalise on Assembly Poll Win in Rajasthan as Pollsters Give BJP Upper Hand

The exit poll numbers suggest a repeat of BJP's 2014 Lok Sabha performance in the state when the party had won all 25 seats in poll fray.


Updated:May 20, 2019, 7:22 PM IST
Congress May Fail to Capitalise on Assembly Poll Win in Rajasthan as Pollsters Give BJP Upper Hand
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Jaipur: Predicting a near clean sweep for the Bharatiya Janata Party in Rajasthan, the News18-IPSOS Lok Sabha Exit Poll handed 22-23 seats to the saffron party, despite the gains made by the Congress in the desert state in Assembly polls in December.

The News18-IPSOS Exit Poll predicted a mere two to three seats for the Congress, which is currently in power in Rajasthan. The exit poll numbers suggest a repeat of BJP's 2014 Lok Sabha performance in the state when the party had won all 25 seats in poll fray.

Exit poll numbers from other pollsters also forecasted a similar result in Rajasthan, with some predicting a second clean sweep by BJP. Today's Chanakya exit poll gave 25 seats to the BJP, predicting that the Congress would fail to open its account in the state.

The Republic C-Voter exit poll also handed BJP a comfortable win with a haul of 22 seats, while predicting only 3 seats for the Congress. The India Today Axis exit poll also predicted a similar figure, giving BJP 23-25 seats and Congress 0-2 seats.

The ABP-Nielsen exit poll, however, did predict a haul of six seats for the Congress in Rajasthan, while handing 19 seats to the BJP.

Rajasthan voted in two phases, in phase 4 on April 29 and in phase 5 on May 6. Despite the sweltering heat in most regions of the desert state, the overall polling percentage in the state was just over 66 per cent.

The major deciding factor was whether Congress could translate their gains in the recent Assembly polls into a better performance in Lok Sabha polls.

Despite BJP’s loss in state polls, the party had a strong footing when it came to the Centre. The slogan of ‘Modi tujhse bair nahi, Raje teri kahir nahi’ during the assembly polls reflected support for Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the helm of affairs at the Centre despite severe anti-incumbency against the state BJP leadership.

In 2014 elections, riding a ‘Modi wave’, BJP had swept Rajasthan and won all 25 of its Lok Sabha seats on offer.

Congress recovered some ground in the state by winning the Assembly elections in Rajasthan in December, largely on the basis of anti-incumbency against the Vasundhara Raje government and farm distress issues. Congress had also promised loan waivers in the state for farmers within ten days of forming the government.

People widely expected Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee president Sachin Pilot to become the Chief Minister; however, former CM Ashok Gehlot got the job, with Pilot as his deputy. Despite Congress’ win in state polls, BJP went into Lok Sabha elections with the ‘Modi advantage’ still with them.

Congress leaders tried to fight the elections on local issues, while BJP candidates regularly invoked Modi and also banked on nationalism and national security issues in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack and Balakot airstrike to ask for votes.

In Churu, during a Modi rally, the names and faces of CRPF soldiers who lost their lives in the Pulwama terror attack were displayed. In Barmer, IAF pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who was downed and captured in Pakistani territory, was seen on a BJP hoarding.

Caste equations were also a big factor in the state and community polarisation and counter polarisation in different seats could decide the outcome in the election.

While Rajputs, who traditionally support the BJP, had abandoned the saffron party in state polls due to anti-Raje sentiment, the community was largely expected to be back in BJP’s field in Lok Sabha polls. BJP also tried to woo Jats and Gujjars in the state.

Hanuman Beniwal, prominent Jat leader and Rashtriya Loktantrik Party president, formed an alliance with the BJP, and Gujjar leader Kirori Bainsla also joined the saffron party ahead of polls.

Congress banked on counter caste polarisation in certain seats and also expected majority of minority and tribal votes to be polled in its favour.

Ashok Gehlot’s son Vaibhav Gehlot made his electoral debut this election from his father’s stronghold, Jodhpur. He, however, faced a tough contest from BJP’s Gajendra Shekhawat. In Jaipur Rural, two Olympians - BJP’s Rajyavardhan Rathore and Congress’ Krishna Poonia - were up against each other, while in Nagaur, Congress’ Jyoti Mirdha challenged for her family’s legacy against BJP-backed aggressive Jat leader Beniwal.

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