BJP wins Rajasthan civic polls, Congress makes gains

Written by | August 21, 2015 | 0

The Congress trailed behind the Bharatiya Janata Party in the Rajasthan civic elections, the results of which were announced on Thursday, but managed to close the gap with the ruling party created in the previous Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.

The Opposition party won in the bastions Jhalawar and Dholpur of Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and her son, Dushyant Singh, claiming the results vindicated its demand for their resignations in the alleged scandal involving former Indian Premier League commissioner Lalit Modi. The BJP won 1,443 of the 3,351 wards, while the Congress won 1,164. Both claimed victory: the BJP on the basis of its majority and the Congress for bouncing back from 25-0 in the Lok Sabha elections.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked the people of the State on Twitter. “Congrats to Rajasthan BJP workers and leaders on the commendable performance in the civic polls,” he tweeted. BJP president Amit Shah said his party had captured 67 of the 129 civic bodies in the State, “and improved its performance of 2010 when it had won elections in 49 civic bodies”.

But the Congress held that the BJP’s vote share climbing down to 37 per cent from 55 per cent in last year’s Lok Sabha polls meant the ruling party is on a sharp decline. The Congress finished with 34 per cent votes.

The difference in the Congress’s performance in Madhya Pradesh, where it was routed when results were announced on August 17, and Rajasthan also underlines the difference in approach in the two States. It had badly lost the Lok Sabha last year and the Assembly polls held simultaneously in November 2013. The two States went the BJP’s way but recently threw up the Vyapam and Lalitgate scams that stalled Parliament.

Divided house

In Rajasthan, the party actively pursued corruption as an issue with party state unit chief Sachin Pilot touring all 33 districts and meeting the President last week to demand Ms. Raje’s removal. In MP, a divided State unit even dropped Vyapam from its manifesto while Parliament was being stalled on the issue here. “It is very unfortunate that the Vyapam scandal was dropped from the manifesto. It was not pursued seriously,” Satyadev Katare, the Leader of the Opposition in MP, admitted.

“The BJP losing in the CM’s constituency is a clear message that Lalit Modi is an issue here,” Mr. Pilot told The Hindu. He said the results should be read “as a vote of no-confidence” against the BJP. “Despite the abuse of official machinery, the BJP has lost in her strongholds,” he said.

The Congress won majority in two civic bodies in Jhalawar district represented by Ms. Raje in the State Assembly and her son Dushyant Singh in the Lok Sabha, while the BJP won three. In Dholpur, the Congress secured majority in all three civic bodies of Badi, Dholpur and Rajakhera. The BJP also lost majority in Baran district’s two civic bodies which fall in Mr. Singh’s Lok Sabha constituency.

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