‘Double anti-incumbency’, inflation, Modi factor hit party; senior Congress leaders involved in scams lose by a heavy margin

Rajasthan Assembly polls 2013

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s sweeping victory in the Rajasthan Assembly elections is being attributed here to the “double anti-incumbency,” inflation, the influential Jat community turning against the ruling Congress and in part to the public sentiments provoked in the rallies of BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.

The BJP’s triumph and the humiliating rout of Congress, which has been restricted to just 21 seats, has even taken the winning party supporters by surprise.

“Everyone knew the BJP would win, but nobody expected such a sweeping verdict,” said Dhirendra Sharma from Jaipur’s Bani Park area under the Civil Lines constituency from where BJP’s Arun Chaturvedi won against Pratap Singh Khachariyawas of the Congress.

Though there were signs of anti-incumbency in the State for over a year, the BJP’s victory was in part fuelled by what is now being referred to as the “Modi factor,” the Congress, on the other, also bore the brunt of people’s anger towards the UPA government’s failure to check inflation.

The Congress could not deal with the double-incumbency with all-round resentment visible against the Union government on the issues which were beyond the State government’s control, said Sikar-based political analyst Ashfaq Kayamkhani.

For most of the duration of its regime, the ruling party was seen being engaged in the damage control exercise.

“The people are very angry with the Congress-led government. Prices of petrol, vegetables and everything else have gone out of control. If the Congress cannot even keep a check on prices, why should it remain in power? That is why I voted for the BJP,” said Sunita, a housemaid from Jaipur.

The flagship schemes launched by the State government for different sections of society also seem to have failed to yield dividends for the Congress. An over-reliance on populist schemes and the alleged disregard of basic amenities and infrastructure probably turned a major chunk of voters away from Congress.

No impact for government’s freebies

“The Congress relied on the last minute welfare schemes and tried to lure people by giving freebies such as foodgrains, cash, laptops and tablet PCs. But the voters saw through such tactics,” said Mahavir Singh from Jodhpur.

Such an approach of the Congress also raised questions on whether the party leaders were really connected to the masses.

Failure to curb communal violence

The poor track record of the State government in controlling communal violence turned a significant section of minorities away from the party.

“At a time when the Congress should have taken prompt action and strengthened the core values of secularism, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot was seen as complacent,” pointed out academician M. Hasan, who resigned as a member of the Rajiv Gandhi Social Security Mission a few months ago.

The involvement of some of the senior Congress leaders in the cases of sexual misconduct also did not go down well with the people. The family members of two Ministers and an MLA, lodged in jail in separate cases of rape and murder, were given tickets by Congress.

All of them lost by a heavy margin.

The oil refinery and Jaipur Metro projects, touted by Congress as the biggest development initiatives in the State, also failed to bring electoral dividends.

Congress lost six of the seven seats in Barmer district, where the refinery is coming up, as the BJP leadership galvanised its cadre to bring the party to power after a gap of five years.