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Saturday, Dec 14, 2019

Rajasthan assembly elections 2018 results: ‘Rahul Gandhi will decide’, says Gehlot on CM post as Congress races ahead

A curious trend has emerged in the state in the past 20 years, where neither the BJP nor the Congress has come to power for a second consecutive term.

rajasthan-elections Updated: Dec 11, 2018 20:16 IST
Rakesh Goswami
Rakesh Goswami
Hindustan Times, Jaipur
Congress leader and former chief minister Ashok Gehlot with supporters in Jaipur on Tuesday as trends showed the party leading in the assembly election results.
Congress leader and former chief minister Ashok Gehlot with supporters in Jaipur on Tuesday as trends showed the party leading in the assembly election results.(HT photo)
         

The counting trends in Rajasthan assembly elections showed the Congress ahead with leads in 100 seats and BJP trailing at 74 in the vote held on December 7.

Rajasthan has 200 assembly seats, but voting was held in only 199 as the BSP candidate for the Ramgarh seat died and election was postponed there. A party needs 100 seats to form government.

Though making huge gains from 21 seats of 2013, the Congress’s show falls short of a comfortable win but the party exuded confidence about forming the next government in the state while reaching out to smaller parties.

“The Congress will get clear majority, still we would want independent candidates and parties other than BJP to support us if they want,” former chief minister Ashok Gehlot said.

Within hours of this statement, RLD’s lone successful candidate offered support to the party. Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party was leading in six seats and Others , many of them Congress rebels, were ahead in 19 seats.

(Click here for Rajasthan Assembly Election Results 2018 live updates)

To a question on who would be the next chief minister of the state, Gehlot said, “The question about the CM will be decided by party president Rahul Gandhi.”

Pradesh Congress Committee chief Sachin Pilot echoed same sentiments and said, “Congress leadership and MLAs will decide who will get what role”.

 

The Congress went into the polls without a clear chief minister candidate and added to the suspense by deciding to field Ashok Gehlot almost at the last minute.

Congress Legislature Party is likely to meet tomorrow and pass a one-line resolution, authorising the party high command to name the leader.

As trends started trickling in, celebrations broke out in Jaipur outside the houses of Pilot and Gehlot as caretaker chief minister Vasundhara Raje prayed at Tripur Sundari temple in Banswara. All three reained their seats -- Pilot from Tonk, Gehlot from Sardarpura and Raje from Jhalrapatan.

The voting was held on December 7, the last day of polling in a round of state elections billed as a semi final before next year’s Lok Sabha polls.

Congress workers gather outside PCC chief Sachin Pilot’s house in Jaipur as counting trends showed the Congress racing ahead.
Congress workers gather outside PCC chief Sachin Pilot’s house in Jaipur as counting trends showed the Congress racing ahead. ( HT photo )

In 2013, the BJP won 163 seats with 45.17% vote share — its highest ever poll victory. In contrast, the Congress won 21 seats with 33.07% vote share.Yet, a curious trend has emerged in the state in the past 20 years, where neither the BJP nor the Congress has come to power for a consecutive term.

“We are all prepared to celebrate on Tuesday and have ordered sweets, fireworks and gulal (colours),” a leader said. In case of a victory, the party will hold a meeting of its winning legislators on Wednesday.

The BJP has called a meeting of its core committee members, including chief minister Vasundhara Raje, on Tuesday evening after the results are announced, party leaders said.

Since 1998, the BJP and Congress have alternately formed the state government. While the last four Assembly elections witnessed a fight between Raje and Gehlot, this time around Pilot was in the fray, too. After being appointed as state Congress chief in 2014, the two-time Lok Sabha MP who contested his first assembly seat this year, steered the party to several bypoll wins.

This included two Lok Sabha seats of Ajmer and Alwar in February 2018, four zila parishad seats in 2017 and three out of four assembly seats in 2014, shortly after the general election which saw the BJP come to power at the centre.

The three by-elections in Rajasthan earlier this year — for two Lok Sabha seats and one assembly seat — served a wake-up call for the Raje government, which lost all seats.

Tuesday’s outcome will further determine whether Raje has tided over a strong anti-incumbency wave. Raje, who faced criticism from within and outside her party for being inaccessible, told Hindustan Times, “Which leader goes to people’s doorstep with her achievements?”

Starting September, BJP national president Amit Shah held booth level meetings of party workers in all seven divisions of the state. In August, Raje set off on a 32-day long Gaurav Yatra that traversed 123 assembly constituencies, covering 4,497-km. Party workers also got in touch with beneficiaries of the state and centre welfare schemes.

The BJP had made much of the fact that the Congress had not declared a CM candidate in these elections. “There are six contenders for the CM’s post in Congress which is like Kaun Banega Crorepati,” Raje had said during her campaign.

The high decibel campaigns saw top party leaders hold rallies in Rajasthan. Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed 12 public meetings in six days, covering 12 districts and 106 assembly constituencies. Raje addressed 75 meetings in 15 days of campaigning, the maximum by any BJP leader.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi addressed 11 rallies in three days, covering 10 districts and 68 assembly seats. He attacked the BJP-led centre on the Rafale deal and crony capitalism, even as Modi referred to Gandhi as a ‘naamdar’ (dynast) in all his speeches.

Rebels posed a challenge for both parties. The BJP dropped 51 of its MLAs, including four ministers. Many contested as independents. In Congress, too, 90 candidates who contested the 2013 election were dropped, which included two sitting MLAs.

Pilot, who had undertaken a 100-km march in Raje’s home turf of Jhalawar last year, and led several protests against the government across the state, contested from Tonk, where the Congress has fielded a Muslim candidate for the last 46 years.

The BJP changed its candidate following this announcement fielding Yunus Khan. In Raje’s home turf, Jhalrapatan, a constituency she has held since 2003, the Congress fielded Rajput strongman and former BJP MLA Manvendra Singh, whose exit from the BJP was widely touted to be a result of friction with Raje.

Catch all the live updates from Assembly Election Results 2018