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Here's How Congress Trumped BJP to Romp Back to Power in Rajasthan

Though exit polls too had predicted a comfortable win for the Congress, the BJP seems to be putting up a fight and the gap between two parties is closer than expected.

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Updated:December 11, 2018, 1:44 PM IST
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Here's How Congress Trumped BJP to Romp Back to Power in Rajasthan
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New Delhi: An explosive mix of several factors—agrarian crisis, anti-incumbency, caste mobilisation, joblessness and the public’s perception of chief minister Vasundhara Raje—could blow up in the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) face in Rajasthan with early Tuesday trends indicating that the Congress is set to wrest the state.

Though exit polls too had predicted a comfortable win for the Congress, the BJP seems to be putting up a fight and the gap between two parties is closer than expected.

Historically, Rajasthan has voted to change the government every five years and it doesn’t look like the pattern is changing. Here are a few reason why the Congress is winning Rajasthan:

Agrarian Crisis

More than half (53 per cent) of all households in Rajasthan own agricultural land with farm income either the sole or an important constituent of income. Rising agricultural input costs, falling profits and poor market infrastructure remain a problem for farmers, who have a lot to complain against the incumbent government. Demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax still haunt farmers. Besides, the issue of minimum support price (MSP) has triggered anger against BJP with farmers complaining that they either sold crops below the MSP or could never sell at all.

The Congress has capitalised on farmer distress in the state and targeted the Raje government over its policies. Party president Rahul Gandhi raised issue in almost every rally during the hustings. Citing media reports, the Congress has been claiming that more than 92 farmers have committed suicide due to farm distress since the BJP came to power in 2013. Regional newspapers have often reported that producers of almost all agricultural produce are under distress.

Anti-incumbency

The BJP is fighting the double anti-incumbency of five years of Raje’s rule and four-and-a half years of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre. Most pre-poll surveys had predicted an easy win for the Congress. Unlike counterparts Shivraj Singh Chouhan in Madhya Pradesh and Raman Singh in Chhattisgarh, Raje does not have a history of consecutive wins. The BJP’s 2013 sweep was largely attributed to a strong public sentiment against the 10-year Congress rule at the Centre and a pan-India wave of Modi, who had already been appointed the chairman of BJP’s poll campaign committee for 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

The Congress targeted the BJP’s failures in the state by releasing an ‘Arop Patra’, a manifesto of allegations against the government which listed the BJP’s major failures in agriculture, employment, women’s safety, education and loan waivers among others.

Caste Mobilisation

Caste equations have always played a big role in Rajasthan even influencing who would be the chief minister. In the past five years, the BJP government somehow managed to antagonise the influential Rajputs.

The community was peeved at the encounter of Rajput ‘Robin Hood’ and history-sheeter Anandpal Singh Didwana, the controversial’ movie Padmaavat, denial of state party president post to Rajput leader Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and the treatment meted out to senior leader Jaswant Singh.

Jaswant’s son Manvendra, who has become the face of Rajput anger in the state, quit the BJP in September. Subsequently, he joined the Congress saying, “Kamal ka phool, meri bhool.” Pitted against Raje in Jhalrapatan, he faces an uphill task to dismantle the CM from her fortress despite mobilizing Rajputs and uniting various groups within the community against the BJP.

Unemployment

High unemployment rate in the state became an important election issue with the ruling BJP not fulfilling its promises. In the last elections, the BJP had promised to create 15 lakh jobs and the target was increased to 50 lakh during these hustings. Besides, the party also promised unemployment allowance to every unemployed youth above the age of 21 and Raje also promised to attract investment—but nothing materialised.

Public perception of Raje

This is Raje’s second term as CM, but she has failed to win hearts and minds of the public, which sees her as arrogant and inaccessible even in her Cabinet. She has not done much to change that perception.

In fact, a famous slogan ahead of elections was ‘Modi se bair nahi, raani ki khair nahi’ (Don’t have a problem with Modi, but Raje’s rule is under threat).

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