Jaipur, December 3
The BJP wrested Rajasthan on Sunday winning 115 seats out of the 199 where polling took place as the Congress failed to buck the state’s three-decade revolving-door trend in which the voters have rejected the party in power.
Twelve hours after counting began, one result was still awaited with the Congress leading. On 68 other seats, its candidates were declared winners.
A slew of welfare schemes introduced by the Ashok Gehlot government in the run-up to the November 25 assembly polls fell flat before the aggressive BJP campaign, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Hours before the results were largely in, Gehlot conceded defeat on social media.
“We humbly accept the mandate given by the people of Rajasthan. This is an unexpected result for everyone. This defeat shows that we were not completely successful in taking our plans, laws and innovations to the public,” the outgoing CM said on X.
He later submitted his resignation to Governor Kalraj Mishra.
Polling was held on 199 of the 200 seats in the state assembly.
Smaller parties picked up a handful of seats in what was essentially a two-party contest.
The Bharat Adivasi Party won three seats and the Bahujan Samaj Party got two. The Rashtriya Loktantrik Party and the Rashtriya Lok Dal bagged one each, while the independents got eight.
It was not immediately clear whom the BJP will pick as next chief minister. During the campaigning Modi had made it clear that ‘lotus’ – the party’s poll symbol – will be its face.
Vasundhara Raje, a former CM who retained her Jhalrapatan assembly constituency by a margin of 53,193 votes, is among the several frontrunners. Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and Union Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal are also said to be in the race.
Jaipur Rural MP Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, a former Union minister who won the Jhotwara assembly seat by a margin of 50,167 votes, too is said to be a candidate for the top job in the state.
He is among the MPs who were asked to contest the state polls by the party, which did not want to take any chances.
Apart from Rajasthan, elections were announced at the same time in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Mizoram, in what was dubbed the semi-final before the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. On Sunday, the BJP won MP and Chhattisgarh as well.
Celebrations broke out at the BJP’s Rajasthan headquarters as the party crossed the majority-mark, in terms of trends. Party workers raised slogans hailing Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat – also mentioned as a CM possibility – took a dig at the Gehlot as it became clear from the trends that the BJP would win.
“The ‘magic’ has ended and Rajasthan has come out of the spell of the magician. People have voted for the honour of women and for the welfare of the poor,” he said, alluding to Gehlot’s past as a magician’s son.
The election in Sriganganagar’s Karanpur seat was postponed due to the death of Congress candidate Gurmeet Singh Koonar.
Several colleagues of Gehlot in the state ministry lost as the state lived up to its strong anti-incumbency tradition. Among them was Disaster Management Minister Govind Ram Meghwal, who was also the Congress campaign committee chief.
Other losers from the outgoing Congress ministry included Bhanwar Singh Bhati (Kolayat) seat, Shakuntala Rawat (Bansur), Vishvendra Singh (Deeg Kumher), Ramesh Chand Meena (Sapotara), Shale Mohammad (Pokaran), and Udailal Anjana (Nimbahera).
Rajasthan Assembly Speaker C P Joshi lost in Nathdwara to the BJP’s Vishvaraj Singh Mewar.
Gehlot won Sardarpura seat in Jodhpur for the sixth time, but with a reduced margin – 26,396 votes compared 45,597 the last time. He defeated BJP candidate Mahendra Rathore.
In a setback to the BJP, Deputy Leader of Opposition in the Rajasthan assembly Satish Poonia lost the Amber seat to Prashant Sharma of the Congress by 9,092 votes.
Ahead of the elections, both the Congress and BJP struggled with factionalism within their ranks. But the infighting within the Congress was more in the open, with Sachin Pilot mounting a rebellion against Gehlot in 2020.
Just ahead of the elections, the party’s central leadership ensured a truce between the two.
The BJP targeted the Congress government over communal violence, accusing it also of “appeasement”, corruption and not having a grip on law and order.
Apart from projecting its welfare schemes, the state’s ruling party tried to make the Eastern Rajasthan Canal Project a major plank, accusing the BJP-led Centre of not giving it the “promised” national project status.
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