A range of factors will be at play in the Rajasthan assembly polls on November 25, with BJP seeking to oust the Congress Government in the State by vociferously raising issues concerning farmers, women and youth and alleged corruption and both parties seeking to woo voters with tall promises.
The Congress is hopeful of returning to power on the basis of the schemes it has launched and promises made in its manifesto, such as doubling the insurance sum under the flagship Chiranjeevi health insurance from Rs 25 lakh to Rs 50 lakh, 10 lakh jobs, including 4 lakh Government jobs and continuing Old Pension Scheme.
Voting will be held for Rajasthan assembly polls from 7 am to 6 pm on November 25, and both Congress and BJP leaders have talked of their parties winning the poll battle.
No party has been able to come to power in Rajasthan in successive polls in the past 30 years. While Congress hopes to buck the trend banking on Gehlot’s “welfarism”, the BJP has majorly highlighted the paper leak cases and the law and order situation in the context of crimes against women besides the communal tensions witnessed earlier in some parts of the State.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sharply attacked the Congress in his rallies and highlighted how the people were paying more in the State in terms of prices of petrol and diesel.
To counter the Congress narrative, he also said that a BJP Government will not stop schemes started by the State Government but improve them.
Congress has laid thrust on the Old Pension Scheme and caste census. BJP apparently has faced some questions in some parts of the State over the change in the recruitment policy for armed forces. Many youth from the SState aspire to join the armed forces.
The Gehlot Government sought to counter “exam paper leak” allegations by bringing strong laws against those who committed the crime. The Rajasthan Public Service Commission (RPSC) cancelled eight examinations between 2019 and 2022 owing to ‘paper leak’. It led to the filing of several FIRs and the arrest of hundreds.
Having battled the feud between Sachin Pilot and Ashok Gehlot, the Congress sought to put up a united face in the polls. The Congress Government suffered a near rebellion over the leadership issue in the State from Pilot and his supporters.
BJP leaders repeatedly referred to ‘red diary’ allegations against the Gehlot Government, aired by sacked minister Rajendra Gudha. The BJP leaders have also accused the Congress of “appeasement politics”.
Both BJP and Congress have rebels in the fray, and the role of smaller parties is also crucial. BSP has won seats in the State. Aam Aadmi Party is also in the fray. The smaller parties include the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party, Bharatiya Adivasi Party, CPI-M, Jannayak Janata Party and Azad Samaj Party.
The BJP fielded some senior leaders, including MPs, in the fray, and the party appeared to fight an election under a collective leadership. Gehlot campaigned for the party throughout the State, and senior leaders, including Mallikarjun Kharge, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi, also campaigned in the State.
For BJP, apart from PM Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP chief JP Nadda, and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh were among leaders who sought support for party nominees.
BJP and Congress have made a series of promises to the people of the State. Congress promises also include legal measures for hate speech.
Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on November 24 hit out at the Rajasthan Chief Minister over his remarks about an “undercurrent” in favour of Congress and said Gehlot held similarly underestimated support for BJP in the 2013 assembly polls when the party won 163 seats.
Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, who is Union Minister of Jal Shakti, told the media that the Ashok Gehlot Government has betrayed every section of society, and people have made up their minds to vote it out in the assembly polls to be held on November 25.
“In 2013, when BJP had got 163 seats and Congress was reduced to 21, even then he (Ashok Gehlot) had felt an undercurrent. He was not aware of this feeling then that the vibration they were feeling was a tsunami for the removal of their Government,” Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said.
“The people of Rajasthan have made up their minds…The present Ashok Gehlot Government has betrayed every section of society and did not fulfil even a single promise made in 2018. The people feel betrayed. The people are united; this time, the rule will change, and it will change in such a way that a new history will be created,” he added.
Ashok Gehlot had said earlier in the day that there is a strong undercurrent in favour of the ruling Congress in the State.
“They (BJP) were trying to topple our Government. It is a sin to topple an elected Government. The people will take revenge for this. There is an undercurrent in favour of Congress. I can feel that in the whole State, there is a wave of Congress. Villages that were previously supporting the BJP are now supporting Congress due to our schemes and policies,” Ashok Gehlot said.
Shekhawat said the Gehlot Government did not address major issues in the State and did not fulfil promises made in the 2018 elections.
“They made fake promises. They were involved in corruption on the pretext of welfare schemes. Our leaders have raised five major issues in the State including those of farmers, violence against women, unemployment, and paper leak, which were not addressed by the ruling Congress. The way farmers were betrayed because of which many farmers were pushed to the edge of committing suicide. Isn’t this an issue we should be discussing?” he asked.
“Over 20000 farmers lost their land because Congress did not fulfil their promise given to the farmers. Isn’t this an issue? The future of more than 17 lakh youth is in darkness. Their families’ dreams were shattered. Many times, there was a paper leak. Wasn’t all this an issue? More than two lakh women were violated, even children, and little girls facing crimes. Isn’t this an issue that should be addressed?”
The Union Minister alleged there is not one state department “that was not involved in corruption”.
Congress leader Sachin Pilot on November 24 expressed confidence of Congress winning the assembly polls in Rajasthan and said that people have made up their minds and the party will return to power in the polling to be held on November 25.
“Leaders must speak on development issues in rallies, what is the planning for the future, what is the report card now. If the public issues are given priority, then a good narrative will be created in the elections. Congress’ campaign was very positive. Though BJP tried to personalise it, to stir up emotional issues, I think their campaign did not catch the public eye,” Sachin Pilot told the media.
“People have made up their mind and voting tomorrow will be in favour of Congress,” he added.
Asked about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remark about alleged victimisation with him in the Congress, Sachin Pilot said when BJP feels that they are losing, they start saying such things to divert from issues.
“Eight crore people live in Rajasthan. When Government is formed, there is support of everyone – be it the farmers, youth, forward or the backward. Efforts should be made to bring everyone together. I think caste politics or religious politics is not a healthy sign for a democracy. We should set an example for the next generation…But whenever BJP feels that they are stumbling and they are not going to get majority and they will lose, they say things like this to create distractions. But people understand everything…I am satisfied that we will get good results on December 3,” he said.
PM Modi, in his election rallies in the State earlier this week, alleged that Sachin Pilot was being victimised because his father, Rajesh Pilot, had challenged the Gandhi family once in the 1990s. He also accused the Congress “royal family” of depriving “Gurjar son” Pilot of the Chief Minister’s post. Pilot said “caste politics and religious politics” can be a threat to democracy. He also called upon people to exercise their franchise on the voting day in large numbers.
Polling will be held on 199 of 200 assembly seats as elections have been adjourned in a seat due to the death of a Congress candidate. The counting of votes will take place on December 3, along with four other States.
(with inputs from ANI)