BJP, Congress pin hopes on bypolls in Rajasthan
The bypolls, voting for which will be held on January 29, come at a time when the opposition Congress is riding high on its success in the local bodies election and an impressive performance in neighbouring Gujarat.jaipur Updated: Dec 28, 2017 23:02 IST
The Election Commission on Thursday announced bypolls to the Ajmer and Alwar Lok Sabha seats and Mandalgarh assembly segment, which will be a test of popularity of the Raje government that faces voters in almost a year from now.
The bypolls, voting for which will be held on January 29, come at a time when the opposition Congress is riding high on its success in the local bodies election and an impressive performance in neighbouring Gujarat.
The Congress won 80 seats in the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, its best showing in assembly elections in 20 years. The BJP returned to power but with a reduced tally of 99 seats in the 182-member House.
In Rajasthan, Congress leaders say the local body polls show the BJP has lost support, a claim denied by the ruling party. In August, the Congress won 19 of the 37 local body bypolls and this month, it bagged 16 panchayat samitis while the BJP could manage only 10.
The BJP stormed to power in Rajasthan by winning 160 of 200 seats in the 2013 assembly election. A year later, the party won all the 25 Lok Sabha seats. But since then, the state government has faced many challenges.
Violence by cow vigilantes — Alwar has reported at least three lynchings this year — that has largely targeted Muslims has invited charges of communalism.
The Rajput community erupted in violent protests earlier this year following the alleged encounter death of a gangster. Farmers are also up in arms over their demand for a loan waiver.
Chief minister Vasundhara Raje, who has taken control of the campaign, has held Jan Samvad (dialogue with people) programmes with various caste groups to garner their support. She deputed cabinet colleagues and party leaders to address people’s grievances at the earliest.
Raje camped in Ajmer, from where state Congress chief Sachin Pilot lost the 2014 Lok Sabha poll, for about two weeks in October and November.
Pilot is unlikely to have another go and a former MLA could be the Congress candidate.
The BJP, too, has not named its contestant.
Ajmer has altered between the BJP and Congress. Pilot was elected in 2009 but in 2014, he lost to BJP’s Sanwarlal Jat whose demise in August necessitated the bypoll.
The voters is Alwar, however, prefer the Congress. Since Independence, the BJP has won the seat only thrice — in 1991, 1999 and 2014.
Former MP Karan Singh Yadav will be the Congress’ candidate for the by-election that had to be called after Mahant Chandnath, of the BJP, died in September.
To ensure a favourable outcome, both sides are strengthening their presence on the ground.
While the Congress has launched “Mera Booth Mera Gaurav (my booth, my pride)” campaign, the BJP has appointed point persons for every 50 voters in these constituencies.