Rajasthan bypolls: BJP wins Dholpur, CM Vasundhara Raje her prestige
The BJP won the Dholpur assembly seat on Thursday in what is being seen as a major morale booster for chief minister Vasundhara Raje whose prestige was at stake in a place which had repeatedly rejected the ruling party.
BJP candidate Shobha Rani Kushwaha defeated Congress candidate Banwari Lal Sharma, a five-time MLA who had once earlier Raje in the constituency in 1993, forcing her to change her Assembly constituency to Jhalrapatan in Jhalawar.
With the win, the BJP’s tally in the 200-member Rajasthan assembly went up to 161.
Shobha Rani is the wife of former legislator BL Kushwaha, who was convicted of murder and suspended from the assembly, necessitating the by-polls held on April 9. BL Kushwaha was aligned with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).
Shobha Rani, who polled 38,648 votes more than her Congress rival, joined the BJP on February 15.
The win also means that under Raje, the BJP has won all elections starting with the assembly polls in 2013.
However, Dholpur was a major irritant for the party and Raje, who is married to the Dholpur royal family and is fondly called Maharani by the people.
Raje and several of her ministers camped in Dholpur for many days ahead of the elections as did Congress top leaders, including state chief Sachin Pilot and former chief minister Ashok Gehlot, who spent many days campaigning in the constituency.
Pilot said after the result was announced that the Congress lost to the Rajasthan government and not to the BJP.
“I haven’t seen such an election, like in Dholpur, with a singular focus of the CM and her government. We have lost but to the Rajasthan government. The chief minister made it an issue to win polls at any cost, as she was losing her seat,” Pilot told reporters at the party office in Jaipur.
He also alleged that the government machinery was misused in Dholpur.
State BJP president Ashok Parnami, however, said the people Dholpur “opted for development over casteism and nepotism”.
“BJP now will do more development in Dholpur and across the state.”
Some BJP leaders credited the victory to the chief minister.
After the result was declared, Shobha Rani went to the Dholpur Palace to meet Raje.
The chief minister said the people of Dholpur cast their votes in favour of BJP for development and that her government was committed to developing the city though the government had only 20 months left for assembly election.
Raje said her government will provide road, water and electricity to the people of Dholpur.
Officials of the election department said 952 people used the NOTA -- none of the above -- option in the by-elections.