Despite stellar wins in the assembly, Lok Sabha and civic body elections over the last one year, the BJP is warily eyeing the panchayat polls where it has been on a weaker footing than the Congress.
The Congress is banking on its traditional vote bank in rural areas to break its losing streak in polls. However, the current rifts within the party will make it a tough
election to win. BJP leaders, too, admit they are worried with the factionalism and dissatisfaction of party workers and MLAs who can play a spoiler for the BJP.
Chief minister Vasundhara Raje set the ball rolling for the panchayat polls on the first anniversary celebrations of the government, calling upon party leaders and workers to spare no effort in ensuring a huge win.
Almost all the ministers are currently on a foundation stone laying spree for various projects in their areas to woo voters and apprise them of welfare and development works undertaken by the government.
The numbers in the panchayati raj institutions are stacked against the BJP.
Of the 33 zila parishads, 24 are with the Congress as compared to nine for the BJP. Of the 248 panchayat samitis, the Congress has 159 as compared to 72 with the BJP.
Of the total 1,013 zila parishad members, the Congress has 603 and the BJP 364. Similarly, of the total 5,273 panchayat samiti members, the Congress has 2,585 and BJP 1,806. “The BJP will be happy even if we win an equal number of seats as the Congress,” said a senior party leader.
However, BJP spokesperson KN Bhatt said, “We will follow the same strategy of booth level management that we have adopted successfully in the earlier elections. That will ensure feedback and participation of workers and overcome any dissatisfaction.”
The Congress cannot sit easy either. State Congress president Sachin Pilot has begun touring the state to invigorate party workers while sharply attacking the government for its failures and profligacy.
But the Congress has seen its strength in the rural areas erode. “Poor governance led to popular sentiment going against the Congress government and traditional Congress voters shifted to the BJP,” said a party leader.
He said the negative reaction within the party to the new executive that has been made by state Congress president Sachin Pilot will have a bearing on the panchayat elections and make them tough to win.
Senior leaders like Ashok Gehlot and CP Joshi remain aloof from the party despite Pilot’s declaration that he is taking everyone along.