Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday suffered a setback in Lok Sabha and Assembly bye-elections in Rajasthan despite a major 'Modi-wave' sweeping the nation. The result for bypolls on Mandalgarh Assembly seat and Ajmer and Alwar Lok Sabha seats came out on the day ruling BJP announced a slew of sops for poor in the Union Budget 2018-19.
As Finance Minister Arun Jaitley rose to present the budget in New Delhi, the sun started setting on the ruling BJP's chances to win the seats in bypolls in Rajasthan as Congress gained an early lead on all three seats.
The main opposition party in the state, Congress won the Lok Sabha seat in Alwar by over 1.96 lakh votes and the seat in Ajmer by over 84,000 votes. The party won the Mandalgarh assembly seat by nearly 13,000 votes. All three seats were previously held by the Bharatiya Janata Party.
The elections were crucial for Vasundhara Raje government as it is facing a huge anti-incumbency factor, which could damage the party's chances in upcoming Assembly elections due later this year.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi today hailed the party’s Rajasthan unit for its impressive show in the bypolls for two Lok Sabha and one Assembly seats, calling the outcome a “rejection” of the BJP by the people.
Taking to Twitter, Gandhi said he was proud of each of the partymen in the state, currently under the BJP’s rule. “Well done Rajasthan Congress! Proud of each and every one of you. This is a rejection of the BJP by the people of Rajasthan. #RajasthanByPolls,” Gandhi tweeted.
Former Rajasthan CM and senior Congress leader Ashok Chavan termed the development as the beginning of the party “revival” in the state.
“The process of the revival of the Congress has begun. The political environment in the country is changing rapidly and it is the beginning of the end of Narendra Modi government,” said Chavan who heads the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC).
He congratulated his Rajasthan counterpart Sachin Pilot, AICC observer Avinash Pande and former chief minister Ashok Gehlot for the Congress victory in the state. “People are disappointed with the BJP and false assurances given by its leaders. The results show that the Congress under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi is gaining ground,” the Nanded MP said.
He claimed the outcome of the bypolls showed that the Congress’ vote share has risen by “30 per cent”. Chavan said the party is set for a big win in Rajasthan assembly polls due later this year. “The tide will turn in favour of the Congress in Maharashtra and other states as well,” he said. The win especially significant for the party as it drew blank in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections in Rajasthan.
The ruling BJP conceded defeat. Rajasthan BJP chief Ashok Parnami told reporters: "We respect the people's mandate and we will analyse the reasons for our defeat. I am taking responsibility for the defeat."
New political outfit Rajput Karni Sena, which rose to fame after staging rampant violence to protest against Sanjay Leela Bhansali's film Padmaavat, also grabbed the opportunity to bash ruling BJP. The party leaders celebrated BJP's loss with firecrackers.
Rajput Karni Sena leader Sukhdev Singh Gogamedi claimed that BJP lost bypolls as it had insulted Rajputs. "The loss in elections has resulted of BJP's insults to Rajput community," he said. "If the party does not change its attitude towards the community soon, it will suffer the same fate in upcoming Assembly and Lok Sabha polls as well."
Rajput angst or Congress revival, it is time for Vasundhara Raje government to do some damage control to win back hearts of Rajasthan electorate before the state goes to polls.
West Bengal loss
BJP also failed to win bypolls in West Bengal today despite extensive campaigning by party cadre. Noapara Assembly seat, West Bengal's ruling Trinamool Congress defeated incumbent Congress candidate while also winning Uluberia Lok Sabha seat. BJP did manage to emerge as main challenger on Uluberia Lok Sabha seat.