Congress scores a clear win on 2 Rajasthan seats, BJP gets a huge jolt

Rajasthan bypoll result: A bunch of factors including the choice of candidates relegated the opposition BJP to the third and fourth positions in Vallabhnagar and Dhariawad assembly segments
Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot promptly interpreted the bye-elections outcome in Vallabhnagar and Dhariawad as a vote for his government and the Congress (PTI)
Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot promptly interpreted the bye-elections outcome in Vallabhnagar and Dhariawad as a vote for his government and the Congress (PTI)
Published on Nov 02, 2021 08:27 PM IST
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BySachin Saini

JAIPUR: Rajasthan’s ruling Congress won Vallabhnagar and Dhariawad assembly segments where bypolls were held on October 30, pushing its tally in the state assembly to 108 in the 200-member house.

Tuesday’s election results have come as a huge shocker for the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which not only lost the Dhariawad seat that voted the party in the 2018 state elections but was not even in the reckoning to be the runners-up on either seat. The BJP candidate in Dhariawad came third; marginally better than Vallabhnagar where it ended up in the fourth position.

Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot promptly interpreted the bye-elections outcome as a vote for his government and the Congress. Gehlot tweeted that people have given their stamp of approval to the policies, programs and good governance of the state government under the leadership of Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

“Congratulations and best wishes to Preeti Shaktawat, and Nagaraj Meena, for their victory in the assembly by-elections. Gratitude to the voters of both the constituencies and congratulations to the workers and leaders of the Congress party,” he tweeted.

Rajasthan Congress president Govind Singh Dotasara called the win on two seats as a “historic win”.

“The competition in the Congress was which candidates will win with a larger margin of votes,” he said.

The bypolls were necessitated due to the death of Congress MLA from Vallabhnagar Gajendra Singh Shaktawat and BJP MLA from Dhariawad Gautam Lal Meena.

Congress candidate Preeti Shaktawat in Udaipur district’s Vallabhnagar defeated her nearest rival and Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) candidate Udailal Dangi, by a margin of 20,606 votes. She received 65,713 votes.

Udailal Dangi, a BJP rebel was originally the Rajasthan unit’s choice for the party ticket, but he didn’t get the ticket.

A BJP leader said the party could have snatched Vallabhnagar from the Congress if the leadership stuck with Udailal Dangi.

Independent candidate Randhir Singh Bhinder, who stood third with 43,817 votes, also has BJP links. Bhinder walked out of the party in 2013 after he was denied a ticket and later founded the Janta Sena. Binder won the seat on a BJP ticket in 2003, and a decade later, as an independent.

Himmat Singh Jhala, the BJP’s choice for the party ticket, ended up with 21,433 votes.

But the Vallabnagar assembly constituency has been a stronghold of Congress with the party winning nine of the 16 assembly elections held since 1952.

Pratapgarg district’s Dhariawad assembly segment, which came into existence after the 2008 delimitation exercise, last voted the Congress in 2008. In 2013 and 2018, the seat voted for BJP candidates.

Congress candidate Nagraj Meena defeated independent candidate Thawar Chand, a rebel candidate of the Bhartiya Tribal Party (BTP) with a margin of 18,725. BJP’s Khet Singh Meena came third, with 46,487 votes.

A senior BJP leader said the party lost due to the selection of candidates. “The result indicates that we need to consolidate our votes and tickets should be given to those who are connected with the masses.”

He reasoned that the late MLA’s son in Dhariawad, Kanhaiya Lal Meena, would have been a stronger contender since he has twice been a pradhan - now his wife holds the post - but was denied the ticket due to the policy that two people wouldn’t get the ticket.

BJP state chief Satish Poonia said, “This defeat is natural; circumstantial and was dependent on local equations and issues. We need to move forward by keeping up our morale and confidence; avoiding criticism; and taking lessons. Even when we were in power, we moved ahead by taking lessons from the defeat in the by-elections.”

Political analyst Manish Godha said the result suggests that there was no anti-incumbency against the state government and even if was there, it was overshadowed by the BJP’s factionalism and attempt to experiment. The result has come as a morale booster for the Gehlot government, especially since the BJP stood fourth and third on the two seats.

He said inflation was an issue but the BJP lost because of its factionalism fielding new faces.

“Instead of playing the sympathy card on the Dhariawad seat, they fielded Khet Singh, whereas in Vallabhnagar, candidates Bhindar or Dangi would have been better candidates… Another important factor was the absence of Vasundhara Raje from the campaign,” said Godha.

Rajasthan Congress chief Dotasara said oppositions normally have an edge in bypolls due to the anti-incumbency factor. “When we were in the opposition (2013-18), the Congress won six of the eight bypolls held. In this government’s tenure, the Congress has won five of the seven assembly bypolls, and one each by RLP and BJP – this shows that anti-incumbency is there against Narendra Modi’s government,” he said, interpreting the outcome to imply that the Congress will get the public support in the 2023 state elections.

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Saturday, December 04, 2021