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Rajasthan exit polls predict majority for the Congress

Rajasthan Exit Polls 2018: As voting ended in Telangana and Rajasthan on Friday, the much-awaited exit polls for all the five states that went to polls over the last one month, were released.

assembly elections Updated: Dec 07, 2018 23:52 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Rajasthan exit polls,Rajasthan assembly elections 2018,Rajasthan polls
BJP supporters wear masks of Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje at an election rally, in Ajmer, Dec. 05, 2018.(PTI Photo)

The exit polls for Rajasthan, which has switched governments every election, show Congress ahead though what people have decided will be revealed only on December 11 when the votes are counted.

A poll conducted by India Today-Axis My India predicts a range of 119 to 141 seats for the Congress, good to unseat the BJP’s Vasundhara Raje; it gives the BJP 55-72 seats. A party needs 100 seats in the 200-member assembly in Rajasthan, where elections were not held on one seat because a candidate died.

The Times Now-CNX survey too predicts a majority for the Congress at 105 seats, with 85 for the BJP.

The Republic Jan Ki Baat poll, however, predicts a close contest, with BJP bagging 83-103 seats against the 163 it had in 2013 and the Congress 81-101 against 21 in 2013.

The Rajasthan assembly elections were held along with those in Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram. This round of election is seen as a semi final before the parliamentary election next summer, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi will seek re-election.

Out of the five states where voting was held since last month, the BJP rules three — Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh — which contributed immensely to Modi’s majority in the 2014 Lok Sabha election with 62 out of 65 seats.

The election in Rajasthan is primarily a bi-polar one between the Congress and the BJP. The Congress is contesting on 195 seats and gave five seats to its allies - two each to Sharad Yadav’s Loktantrik Janata Dal and Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal, and one to Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).

The BJP is contesting on its own in all seats. Hanuman Beniwal’s Rashtriya Loktantrik Party and Bharatya Tribal Party have put up candidates in several segments and may impact a few seats in their areas of influence.

In 2013, the BJP got 163 seats and a vote share of 46.03%, a jump of about eight percentage points since 2008. The Congress bagged 21 seats with a vote share of 34.27 per cent, a fall of a meagre two percentage points. The BJP had eaten into the votes of smaller parties and independents, whose vote share shrank by eight percentage points to 20.29 per cent.

The campaign for 200-member Rajasthan assembly had been intense with the top leaders of both the Congress and the BJP campaigning extensively in the state speaking on issues such as construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya, caste of Hindu god Hanuman, caste and family of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, apart from farm and water crisis, jobs, reservation to certain castes, inaccessibility of chief minister Vasundhara Raje and her cabinet colleagues.

In fact, the tempo for the poll started soon after the BJP lost the bypolls to the Lok Sabha seats of Alwar and Ajmer and assembly constituency Mandalgarh in February taking the BJP by surprise. As part of that course correction, Raje, in her last budget in the current assembly, offered close to 100 sops and started Jan Samwad in all the seven divisions of the state.

Also read: Chhattisgarh exit polls bring mixed news for BJP, Congress; Ajit Jogi no kingmaker

The BJP reached out to its workers, who were openly blaming inaccessibility of the legislators and the cabinet for the by-poll loss, and prepared a database of around 20 million beneficiaries.

The campaigns for both the parties started much before the election commission announced the poll schedule for the state on October 6. Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a rally of beneficiaries of the state and the central government schemes on July 7 in Jaipur. Almost a month later, Congress president Rahul Gandhi also held his first rally in the state capital. And since then a battery of leaders from the two parties descended to woo around 47 million voters.

Also read: Mizoram exit poll predicts hung house in Cong’s last bastion in north east

The election witnessed an undercurrent against the ruling dispensation in several parts of the state primarily on the non-accessibility of ‘maharani’, as Vasundhara is popularly known, in the first years of the BJP government after winning the highest number of seats (163 of the total 200) ever for the saffron party.

The BJP realized the wind was blowing against it and denied tickets to 51 of its sitting legislators including three ministers. “The anger is against Raje and not the legislators. No matter what the party did with the tickets, the anger is bound to have a repercussion in the election,” said an RSS pracharak requesting anonymity.

Political expert Prof Rajiv Gupta agreed that if the Congress wins, it will be because it was the only alternative available to replace the BJP. The option before the people is to accept or reject her (Vasundhara Raje), Gupta said.

On ground, the campaigns of both the parties had hovered around Raje with a tinge of national issues. She carried the weight of the election on her shoulders and addressed 75 meetings in 15 days of campaigning, the maximum by any BJP leader, apart from the 4,497-km Gaurav Yatra.

Also read: Telangana exit polls 2018: All you need to know

“Modi ji ko 2019 main dekhain ga, aabhi to Vasundhara ji ki bari hai (We will see Modi in 2019, as of now it’s Vasundhara’s turn),” said a pan shop owner near Ajmer, repeating the common refrain in several parts of the state.

Caste and religion dominated the issues raised by campaigners from both parties. The PM picked on Congress leader CP Joshi’s remark that only Brahmins knew about Hinduism and were learned enough to speak about it. Modi also took exception to Gandhi’s criticism of his use of the slogan ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’.

This Tuesday, Congress president Gandhi said in a rally in Alwar that Modi opens his speeches with the slogan and speaks about nationalism, but alleged that he works for top industrialists.

Also read: Madhya Pradesh exit polls 2018: All you need to know

Throughout his campaign, Modi referred to Gandhi as ‘naamdar’ (dynast) and called himself ‘kaamdar’ (one who works). Yogi Adityanath, the chief minister of BJP-led Uttar Pradesh, also spoke about the caste of Hanuman in one of his rallies.

The leaders also spoke about issues including the agrarian crisis, the Rafale deal, unemployment, and achievements of the Vasundhara Raje government and that of the central government.

While the Congress has promised to waive off the farmers’ loans within 10 days of coming to power, the BJP manifesto promised a Rs 250-crore rural start-up fund. Both parties have promised an unemployment allowance to educated youth in the state.

The election did not lose its tinge till the last moment with Vasundhara Raje taking umbrage at former Janata Dal (U) leader Sharad Yadav allegedly body shaming and said, “I felt insulted”. Yadav claimed that his comments were not “derogatory”. The state election office is looking at the BJP complaint that Yadav’s comments were offensive and violated the election laws.

Also read: Elections exit polls 2018 Live Updates

Also read: Mizoram exit polls 2018: All you need to know

First Published: Dec 07, 2018 19:44 IST