The BJP’s massive sweep — second in a row — in the State reminds one of the popular slogan during the Assembly election in December 2018: “ Modi tujhse bair nahi, Vasundhara teri khair nahi (We do not have any enmity with you Modi, but Vasundhara, we will not spare you)”.
Even as the Congress was able to form the government in Rajasthan, it was very clear in the survey conducted during the Assembly election by Lokniti that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his party were going to be the first choice of voters for the Lok Sabha election. Nearly half the voters during the survey in December said that they would vote for the BJP for the Lok Sabha. This explains why the Congress lost despite three-fourths of the respondents from Lokniti’s post-poll survey being satisfied with the State government.
The BJP not only swept all 25 seats yet again, but ended up securing 58.5% votes, a gain of almost 20 percentage points over its Assembly share.
The Congress, on the other hand, has suffered a loss of more than 5% votes since the December election. This staggering BJP victory not just in Rajasthan but in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh as well, has now put a question mark on the much famous political assumption of a “honeymoon period”, implying that if two elections are held at close intervals, the result of the earlier election has its impact on the one being held later on.
Apart from the fact that Mr. Modi was extremely popular in the State (over three-fifths wanted to see him return as Prime Minister as opposed to just one-fifth who wanted Rahul Gandhi as the next PM), the other important factor that seems to have strongly worked in the BJP’s favour is bickering and infighting between the Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot factions of the Congress that had delayed the Cabinet formation in the State by a month.
In the survey, one-third of respondents who said they had voted for the Congress in the Assembly election were found to be of the opinion that the Congress should have made Sachin Pilot the Chief Minister, and significantly among them, over one-fourth ended up voting for the BJP during this election.
Over one-fourth of Sachin Pilot supporters seem to have voted for BJP this time
|Voted for Cong (%)||Voted for BJP (%)|
Congress' Assembly election voters who think Cong
did right thing by making Gehlot to CM
Congress' Assembly election voters who think Cong
should have made Sachin Pilot the CM
The Congress’s inability to forge critical alliances with smaller parties such as Jat leader Hanuman Beniwal’s Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (which eventually tied up with the BJP) and the Bharatiya Tribal Party seems to have impacted its chances considerably among Jats, Dalits and Adivasis.
Post-poll data show that the BJP ended up getting overwhelming support among Jats and other OBCs who together form nearly one-half of the State’s population. It also got more support among the tribal people. The BJP has traditionally done exceedingly well among the non-reserved social groups such as Brahmins, Rajputs and the trading communities and continued to do so this time as well. In fact, our data suggest that the party recovered some of the ground among the “upper castes” which it had lost to the Congress during the Assembly election.
The only communities among which the Congress was ahead of the BJP were Dalits and Muslims.
The survey indicates that the farm loan waiver announced by the Gehlot government did not translate into many votes for the Congress. First, only 35% of the farmers admitted to have benefited from the waiver, and second, the BJP’s lead over the Congress among them was only marginally less than its lead among farmers who had not benefited.
How castes and communities voted in Rajasthan
|Voted for Cong (%)||Voted for Cong (%)|
|2018 VS||2019 LS||2018 VS||2019 LS|
|Other Upper Caste||30||19||50||58|
(Source: Lokniti-CSDS Post Poll Surveys during 2018 Assembly elections and 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Note: the rest voted for Others)
The achievement of a consecutive double of ‘Mission 25’ by the BJP in Rajasthan is truly phenomenal and unprecedented. But compared to 2014, there is one significant change in the State — there is a Congress government in power today. Compared with other Congress-ruled States such as Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka, where there is an imminent threat to the State governments, the Ashok Gehlot government stands in a much safer zone. It has a clear majority of its own and the government is for now more secure with nearly a dozen ‘rebel’ MLAs back in the Congress fold.
Of course, these tactical moves did not help the party win any seat from the State, and the complete failure of the State Congress is bound to raise difficult questions about the State leadership of the party.
( Sanjay Lodha is a Professor at the Department of Political Science at Mohanlal Sukhadia University, Udaipur, and coordinator of Lokniti in Rajasthan. Nidhi Jain is a research associate in the department. )