The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday returned to power in Rajasthan after five years, winning a record 162 seats and leaving the Congress bruised with just 21 members in the 200-seat legislature.
Rajasthan BJP leader Vasundhara Raje and chief minister of the state Ashok Gehlot. (HT Photo)
This win by the BJP is the best performance among all parties in the history of the state. The previous record was by the Congress, which won 153 seats in the 1998 elections.
The Congress won just 21 seats, the party's worst performance. Before this election, the party's lowest tally was in 1977 when it won 41 seats.
Incumbent chief minister Ashok Gehlot met governor Margaret Alva in the evening and submitted his resignation, while state Congress president Chandrabhan, who not only lost from Mandawa constituency but also forfeited his deposit, sent his resignation to party president Sonia Gandhi.
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BJP sources said the party has already started making preparations for the oath-taking ceremony of Vasundhara Raje as the chief minister.
"She is likely to take oath in the next four or five days," a party source said.
"Vasundhara-ji always takes astrological advice before undertaking any good work, so I feel she will consult a pundit before deciding on the date of taking oath," he added.
Election in one seat, Churu, was countermanded due to the death of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidate Jagdish Meghwal. The poll is now slated for Dec 13.
The BSP won three seats and candidates of the National People's Party (NPP) were declared elected on four seats.
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Prominent BJP leaders who won include chief ministerial candidate Vasundhara Raje and Leader of Opposition Gulab Chand Kataria.
Raje was declared elected from Jhalrapatan constituency. She defeated her nearest rival from the Congress, Meenakshi Chandrawat, by over 60,000 votes.
The biggest win was recorded by Ghanshyam Tiwari of the BJP who defeated his nearest Congress rival in Sanganer constituency by a margin of over 62,000 votes.
Vasundhara Raje, who is also the BJP state president, said: "I was confident that we will win. It is a vote against the Congress party's poor governance in the state."
"I thank Narendra Modi (BJP prime ministerial candidate) and Rajnath Singh (party president) for touring the state extensively and holding rallies."
"This is the win of party workers, youths and women. (For the) first time, voters voted against the misrule of the Congress," she said addressing party workers in the state BJP office.
The Congress, which won 102 seats in the last elections in 2008, recorded one of its worst defeats.
Chief minister Gehlot of the Congress was declared elected from Sardarpura constituency, defeating his BJP rival Shambhu Singh Khetasar by over 18,000 votes.
Among those who lost the elections were senior Congress leader BD Kalla, tourism minister Bina Kak, medical and health minister AA Khan, urban development minister Shanti Kumar Dhariwal and industries minister Rajendra Pareek.
Arjuna Awardee discus thrower Krishna Punia lost from Sadulpur constituency.
"We accept the people's mandate. My government worked for the welfare of all. We launched various social welfare schemes too. There is no point in getting depressed. One party wins, another loses," Gehlot said.
Marwar would decide the Congress’ fate in 2013, senior party leader CP Joshi had said three days before campaigning came to an end. But it didn’t. The Mewar-Marwar debate, in fact, ended with the BJP sweeping both the regions.
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The stress on Marwar, however, was not without reason. A predominantly Jat-Rajput-Mali (OBC) belt, it has 33 legislators, including Gehlot.
But although Jats control 60 constituencies in more than 12 districts, political analyst Rajendra Bora said, “Gehlot systematically alienated the Jats by sidelining Parasram Maderna even after he had been projected as party’s chief ministerial candidate in the 1998 elections.”
Gehlot’s decision to send Mahipal Maderna to jail in the Bhanwari Devi murder case worsened the matters. Gehlot tried to placate them by fielding Maderna’s mother, Leela, from Osian, but it was too late in the day.
As the poll results show, the CM had to pay a heavy price. In his own home district of Jodhpur, he may have won his own seat, but lost nine to the BJP.
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The 2013 election has also confirmed the state’s tendency to rotate governments every five years and retain its bi-polar character. Efforts made by Kirodi lal Meena of the National People’s Party to create a third force has come to naught.
Propped up by Gehlot, Meena actually helped in the Congress rout as the BJP had little to lose in the Dausa-Dholpur Meena belt. In 2008, the BJP had won only four seats. This time, they added a couple more to their kitty.
Anti-incumbency eclipsed Gehlot’s welfare schemes touted as a game-changer at the start of the elections. The schemes were hamstrung with the poor delivery system – it yielded no political dividend.
From business leaders, the signals were mixed. “Gehlot is amiable, but not assertive. Raje is arrogant, but she delivers. We need her on the drivers’ seat to accelerate the pace of development in the state.”
While Narendra Modi’s aggressive campaign augmented BJP’s position, the UPA’s poor performance, especially on the price front, added to the Congress woes. The government hiked diesel prices on the day the state went to the polls.
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