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Monday, December 4, 2023

Rajasthan election no cakewalk, slight edge may be seen for Congress


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The Rajasthan Legislative Assembly election is just a couple of days away, and it is for the first time in the largest state of India, that it remains difficult to figure out which political party will bag victory. Even though there is a consistent pattern which is always seen in Rajasthan, as far as electing a political party is concerned, that is, none of the two major competing parties, neither the BJP nor the Congress, gets to come in power for a consecutive two tenures in this north Indian state; for the first time, many have doubts about the BJP returning to power after the end of the incumbent Congress government’s rule.

Amidst the election fervour in the state, Sonakshi Datta of GoaChronicle went across four important and varied regions in the state, which are the capital of Rajasthan, Jaipur; Ajmer in eastern Rajasthan; Jodhpur in western Rajasthan; and Hanumangarh in northern Rajasthan, to sense the pulse of the people in these areas in different directions of the state, in order to understand how the voter-base is thinking this time, and how the choices and viewpoints of the electorate differ from each other.

In Ajmer, a random sample of 264 people in all was taken, and it was seen that amongst these 264 respondents, 173 revealed that they supported the Congress, which makes it 65.5 percent of the total sample size, and on the other hand, 84 chose to vote for the BJP, which is 31.8 percent of the sample size of 264 respondents. On the other hand, 6 out of the 264 respondents were still unclear about whom to cast a vote for, making their share 2.2 percent of the sample size, and 1 respondent announced, shouting at the top of his lungs, that he was done with both the BJP and the Congress, as none did anything for the common people of the state or their development, and chose to press the ‘NOTA’ button.

As far as the reasons to support the Congress among the voters of Ajmer are concerned, people who side with the Ashok Gehlot-led regime stated that most importantly, the schemes introduced by the incumbent state government led by Gehlot has benefited them a lot, which include the most important Chiranjeevi Scheme in the healthcare sector, increasing people’s pensions, and providing them with ration. Other supporters said that the Gehlot government has helped the poor of the state, maintained peace, and has given jobs to the unemployed.

One important viewpoint which has to be noted among the Congress supporters is that some believe that now, Ashok Gehlot should step down from the CM race, and pass the baton to the popular young face, Sachin Pilot.

On the other hand, most of the supporters of the BJP said how the reasons for them to support and vote for the party is the Modi factor, and the development the BJP government at the Centre has done, for instance, the development of roads or highways across the nation. Another major factor for people to support the BJP came out to be the cause of Hindutva they associate the political party with. Others reckon that the BJP in Rajasthan is less corrupt as compared to the Congress, and its leaders are more transparent.

Some BJP supporters in Ajmer also believe that something concrete has to be done by the party they support in Rajasthan because the leaders are weak and the political campaign by the BJP in the state has been lukewarm.

It is noteworthy that while in the sample size in Ajmer, the majority has clearly chosen the Congress over the BJP, the chances for the BJP to bag victory on the two legislative assembly seats of Ajmer are higher because Ajmer has always been a bastion for the BJP with a stronghold of the party over the electorate, and the Sindhi community, which has a large presence in Ajmer, votes for the BJP en masse.

Next, we look at northern Rajasthan’s Hanumangarh, which is quite different from the typical regions of Rajasthan, as it shares its borders with Haryana and Punjab, and has a larger population of Jats and Sikhs than Rajasthanis, and hence, this region’s culture is influenced much more by Punjabi and Haryanvi cultures, rather than Rajasthani. Here, a random sample size of 293 people was taken.

Out of the total of 293 respondents, 126 chose to vote for the BJP in the upcoming state polls, making their share 43 percent of the sample size. 94 other respondents chose the Congress, being 32 percent of the random sample size. Here as well, the supporters of Congress side with the party because of the schemes introduced by the state government, and the Chiranjeevi Scheme is worth highlighting here as well.

Another interesting trend here is voting for independent candidates, which will be done by 20 or 6.8 percent of the responders of the survey. These people, who prefer voting for an independent rather than for the BJP or the Congress, say that none of the two parties have done anything for the state, and hence, voting for them is a waste. A new player has also been observed to have entered the playing field in Hanumangarh, and this is the Rashtriya Loktrantrik Party (RLP).

48 or 16.3 percent of the sample size announced that they will be voting for the RLP, which is a political party from Rajasthan, founded in the year 2018 by Hanuman Beniwal, after he was suspended by the BJP following his allegations of corruption on senior party leadership. RLP had also joined the NDA in 2019 after this. Since its formation, the RLP has garnered major support from the Jat community.

In Hanumangarh, 5 or 1.7 percent of the respondents also chose to vote for the Aam Aadmi Party.

In the capital of Rajasthan, that is Jaipur, out of a total of 190 random respondents, 12 revealed that they would be voting for the Congress, making their share 6.3 percent of the sample size. And a whopping 178 chose to vote for the BJP, making their share 93.6 percent of the respondents. Choosing the BJP seems to be the right decision for its supporters because as per them, the BJP, being at the Centre, has helped the country develop, and because the party is less corrupt than the Congress, apart from being synonymous with the cause of Hindutva.

In western Rajasthan’s Jodhpur, which is also the home-turf of the current Chief Minister of Rajasthan, leading the incumbent state government of the Congress, Ashok Gehlot, a total of 117 random respondents, 37 or 31.6 percent of the individuals chose to vote for the BJP, and a whopping 80 or 68.3 percent of the voters revealed that they were ready to vote for the Congress on November 25, 2023.

This massive support for the Congress in Gehlot’s home-turf, without much of an anti-incumbency seen, is because of the Chiranjeevi Scheme. It was also found out that the Congress government had also distributed among accredited journalists in the region, free laptops; and also, that the Muslim population in Jodhpur, which is quite high, votes in totality for the Ashok Gehlot-led side.

With this, we can certainly say that the various schemes implemented by the Ashok Gehlot government has benefited people largely, especially those in the rural parts of the state, be it the Chiranjeevi Health Scheme, the Old Pension Scheme, reducing the bus fare for women, the electricity subsidy, or the distribution of laptops and mobiles to women and journalists, or the reduction of LPG prices.

Another thing which can easily be said is that there are high chances, that the Congress returns to power in the state, creating history, and breaking the tradition of no two consecutive terms for a single political party in the state, ever. Looking at the current scenario, it is crystal clear that it is going to be a neck-to-neck fight between the Congress and the BJP in Rajasthan, and this time, it will not be a cakewalk for the BJP to return to power.

The vote-count for the state will be taking place on December 3, 2023.

Sonakshi Datta
Sonakshi Datta
Journalist who wants to cover the truth which others look the other way from.


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