The election ‘season’ has arrived, and with it, chances of a cloudy sky for the political parties standing in the battleground. The assembly elections will be a sneak peek into the people’s mood before the grand 2019 showdown.
In Rajasthan, Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje is hoping to win a second term for herself and Bharatiya Janata Party. But, the question is will queen Raje manage to ensure the continuity of her dynasty?
Vasundhara Raje in Rajasthan
Rising to the post of CM for the first time in 2003, Raje had won from a popular vote. Her Parivartan Yatra (2003), and Suraj Sankalp Yatra (2013), both succeeded in elevating her to the post of Chief Minister of Rajasthan.
She is the first woman to hold the post, fairly popular among rural women even now. In the 2013 assembly elections, Raje’s party won 163 out of 200 seats, leaving Gehlot-led Congress government at a mere 21 seats. In the past one year, the Raje government has added several feathers to its cap; not all of them good.
Key developments in the state during this tenure include several schemes launched. Bhamashah Yojana, for instance, enabled lakhs of Rajasthani women to become financially independent. Annapurna stores have been opened in the state to ensure food security.
However, the BJP government in Rajasthan has been under attacks quite often, especially for the increasing farmers’ distress. Irregular rainfalls, loan repayment pressures on the farmers etc has put the government under radar.
What are the clouds?
As mentioned, not all has been good for the Raje government in the past five years. In 2013, Vasundhara Raje had managed to become the CM, majestically defeating Congress’ Gehlot; true. However, when her tenure ended in 2008, it was Ashok Gehlot who showed Raje the face of defeat. Hence, while Vasundhara Raje is pretty confident about her winning streak, it might be lesser of a possible reality than she would like to believe.
Populist schemes announced by the government, such as that of loan waivers, have now come back to haunt. Generating money for the same proves itself to be a struggle, more often than not. People in the state also express discontentment over the unimpressive performance of the government in generating new jobs.
A second term?
The state of Rajasthan has been known for its alternating governments in the past three decades, nearly. Congress and BJP alternate between each other for the position of power. This automatically makes her chances of enjoying a second term slightly bleak.
One of the biggest hurdles Vasundhara Raje has to face is the rising wave of anti-incumbency in the state. The internal politics and conflicts also tend to tarnish the fortunate chances. For example, it came in the limelight recently, that 40+ BJP leaders were hoping to get the ticket of one particular constituency. All of the said party workers have already made their claims on the seat.
During her first tenure, beginning 2003, Raje was often criticized for looking down upon the ordinary people. Coming from a royal family, the “Queen” occasionally struggles to settle down into the “people’s leader” image.
Like these assembly elections will act as a rough predictor of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections turnout, by-polls in states play the same role for state assemblies. The January 2018 Lok Sabha by-polls brought with them a heavy disappointment for the BJP state government.
2 out of the constituencies going into elections (Alwar and Ajmer), had been in the hand of BJP. However, the ruling party lost both the seats to Congress in what can only be called a crushing defeat. In a situation like this, the changing tides become hard to ignore, perhaps even shouldn’t be.
Multiple opinion polls have predicted a comfortable victory for the opposition- Indian National Congress. And, that is when INC hasn’t even disclosed its face for CM. Sachin Pilot, Congress’s favourite player on the field, is people’s first choice for Chief Minister in the next session.
Given the anti-incumbency wave, defeat from the by-polls, combined with the decreasing popularity and ground problems- victory for BJP in Rajasthan seems like a struggle, to say the least. Will the ‘Queen’ manage to retain her throne, breaking Rajasthan’s history of alternating governments? Only if she manages to beat the odds.
BJP Performance in Rajasthan Assembly Elections – 2013