February 21, 2018

CM, Cong jubilant after Rajasthan by poll verdict

06 February 2018, 02:35 | Kara Nash

Rajasthan Bypolls: Ajmer Records 65.33% Polling, Alwar Registers 62% Voter Turnout, Mandalgarh - 80%


Will the results trigger a rethink on simultaneous polls? This is being touted by political analysts as a massive setback to Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and Prime Minister Narendra Modi especially because all the three seats for which the by-poll was conducted, were held by the ruling BJP.

Even the uptick of communal violence is not helping the BJP in Rajasthan as it did in Uttar Pradesh.

The Congress candidate Raghu Sharma won the Ajmer by-elections by defeating Ramswaroop Lamba, Sanwarlal Jat's son. Yadav had garnered 1,63,489 votes. It comes as a shot in the arm for the Congress in general, and Rajasthan Congress chief Sachin Pilot in particular. BJP lost Alwar by more 1.9 lac votes, and Ajmer by more than 80 thousand. Since it has lost in both Lok Sabha and Assembly constituencies, it is hard to say if the verdict against the Centre or the state government.

The party has won Ajmer, Alwar parliamentary and Mandalagarh assembly consistencies which it snatched from BJP. Dhakad garnered 70,146 votes, defeating Hada by 12,976 votes. He took a dig at the state BJP government, saying apart from changing the names of Congress-era schemes, the chief minister had done nothing concrete for the people in the past four years.

The BJP's huge defeat, just one week after the Vasundhra Raje government failed to implement the Supreme Court order that called for the screening of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Padmaavat in the interest of freedom of speech and expression, has raised questions as to whether the two events were connected.

In Ajmer, the sitting MP Sanwar Lal Jat passed away on August 9 previous year.

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All three seats, in the Lok Sabha constituencies of Alwar and Ajmer as well as the state assembly seat of Mandalgarh, had fallen vacant following the deaths of their incumbent representatives.

Incidentally, under Pilot, the Congress has also won a majority of seats in the by-elections to zila parishads, panchayat samitis and municipal wards in Rajasthan.

The BJP suffered a devastating blow as it faced a complete rout in five byelections held in Rajasthan and West Bengal.

A negative vote it may have been, but the verdict is also a vindication of the Congress tactic of letting a young Sachin Pilot be its public face. Left Front-backed Communist Party of India (Marxist) candidate Gargi Chatterjee finished a close third, after running second in the initial rounds of counting. Around the time dates for these by-polls were announced, the question on everybody's mind was who would lead the Congress against Vasundhara Raje. "In the next few months we will over come our shortcomings", said BJP functionary Gopal Shetty. A Congress rebel polled 23% of the votes.

The election results of West Bengal assume significance since they show BJP to be gradually moving ahead but repeatedly falling well short of TMC's numbers.

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