By Sunil Garodia
How fortunes change! The BJP has been handed a sound drubbing in Rajasthan. It has failed to retain both the Lok Sabha seats at Alwar and Ajmer and also lost the Mandalgarh assembly seat. The Congress gained at all three places. It was a major setback for Vasundhara Raje ahead of the assembly polls this year and it immensely improved the stock of the recently-anointed Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Sachin Pilot, the Congress point man who oversaw the elections there.
There is no doubt Raje is facing massive anti-incumbency. But ever since Bhairon Singh Sekhawat of the BJP completed his term in 1998, the state has a tendency to change governments every five years. After Sekhawat, Ashok Gehlot of Congress assumed office, only to be ousted in 2003. His successor Vasundhara Raje was similarly ousted in 2008. Gehlot was again thrown out in 2013. In all probability, it is Raje’s turn to be shown the door in 2018. But that does not take anything away from Sachin Pilot’s and Congress’ excellent show. After all, a vote against the BJP does not automatically mean a vote for the Congress. It has to be earned and Pilot earned it.
An additional factor in these by polls was the belligerence shown by the Rajputs. Miffed by the government’s supposed inaction over their demand to get the film Padmavat banned, the Rajputs had, much like the Patels in Gujarat, decided to teach the BJP a lesson. There were wild celebrations in Rajput areas after the party lost all three seats.
Although it is often seen that people vote differently in state and central elections and all polls indicate that the Modi charishma is still intact, the results of these by polls must come as an eye opener for the BJP high command. The Shiv Sena has already taken a dig at the party when it said that Gujarat was trailer, Rajasthan is interval and the movie will end with the BJP being thrown out in 2019. Although it is not as bad as that, but simmerings of discontent are too widespread to be ignored any further. The BJP must get its act together if it wishes to extend its term in office. BJP president Amit Shah must recognize the fact that bharat is not mukt of Congress. The party is just waiting in the shadows and it will bounce back strongly if the BJP continues to promise more than it can deliver.