Rajasthan: Assembly elections
This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.
1951-2018: The performance of independent candidates
In the past three decades, the Assembly elections in Rajasthan have seen a bipolar fight between the Congress and the BJP, and the Independents have emerged as the third-biggest political force. In the 15 Assembly elections held from 1951 to 2018, Independents have been the third-biggest group nine times in terms of seats won while in terms of vote share, they have come third on 10 occasions in this period. Non-Congress and non-BJP parties such as the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), CPI(M), Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLTP), Bhartiya Tribal Party (BTP), and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) have not been able to make inroads in the state.
Election Commission (EC) data shows that Independents were the second-biggest group in seats won in the first two elections of the Rajasthan Assembly. In 1951, their tally stood at 35 in the 160-member Assembly while in 1957 it was 32 in the 176-member House. In these elections, the Congress won the maximum number of seats — 82 in 1951 and 119 in 1957.
The Independents, however, slipped to third place in 1962 when their tally came down to 22. Apart from the Congress (88), the other party that was ahead of the Independents was the Swatantra Party (SWA), which won 36 constituencies. In the following elections, held in 1967, the Independents slipped to fourth with 16 seats in the House of 184 members. This time, the three parties that were ahead of the Independents were the Congress (89), the SWA (48), and the Bharatiya Jan Sangh (22).
In 1972, Congress won in a landslide (145 seats in the 184-member Assembly), decimating the SWA and the Jan Sangh, which were reduced to 11 and eight seats respectively. The number of Independents too came down to 11 seats. In 1977, the Janata Party (JNP) swept the Assembly elections winning 152 seats in the House of 200, reducing the Congress seat count to 41 while only five Independents won.
The Assembly elections of 1980 saw the entry of the BJP. The Congress made a strong comeback by winning 133 seats in the now 200-member Assembly. The BJP, which was contesting its first election after its foundation that same year, bagged 32 seats to come second. The Independents managed to win 12 seats and remained third.
In 1985, the Congress retained power but with a reduced number of seats (113) as the BJP and the Lok Dal (LKD) posed a challenge by winning 39 and 27 seats respectively, as the Independents slipped to fourth with 10 constituencies.
In 1990, the Congress lost the election. The BJP with 85 seats emerged as the single-largest party but fell short of the majority mark of 101 in the House of 200. It was followed by the Janata Dal (55) and the Congress (50). The Independents, with a tally of nine, remained fourth.
Since 1993, the BJP and the Congress have won the Rajasthan Assembly elections alternatively — in 1993 BJP won 95 and Congress 76; in 1998, Congress 153 and BJP 33; in 2003, BJP 120 and Congress 56; in 2008, Congress 96 and BJP 78; in 2013, BJP 163 and Congress 21; and in 2018, Congress 100 and BJP 73. In all these six polls, the Independents have stood third by winning 21 seats in 1993, seven in 1998, 13 in 2003, 14 in 2008, seven in 2013, and 13 in 2018.
In the 15 Assembly elections held in the state to date, the combined vote share of the Independent candidates has ranged between 8.21% and 27.49%.
Not only have the Independents been a major factor in deciding the outcome of several seats in the state in terms of seats won but also in vote share. For instance, they were the runners-up across eight Assembly seats in 2013 and 11 seats in 2018.
The results of the Rajasthan assembly elections, 2018
Comparisons with the 2013 assembly elections
BJP falls from 9 to 2 seats in gauraksha hub, Alwar
In a district that has witnessed several violent episodes of vigilantism tied to protection of cows, BJP’s tally has come down from nine seats (out of 11) in 2013 to two this time.
The BJP only retained the Alwar (urban) and Mundawar seats in Alwar district. It lost Tijara, Kishangarh Bas, Behror, Bansur, Thangazi, Alwar (rural), Kathumar, and Rajgarh-Laxmangarh seats.
Alwar shares a border with Haryana; the region is home to a large number of dairy farmers. A farmer said due to the fear of vigiliante attacks — especially after the lynching of Mewat resident Pehlu Khan in 2017 and Rakbar Khan earlier this year — transportation of cows had virtually stopped, affecting livelihoods.
Stray cattle wandering into farms had become another major concern. “At night, farmers would sit in their fields with a torch and stick to ensure stray cattle did not enter. BJP, however, paid no heed to these problems,” said Rahul Meena, a farmer in Ramgarh.
Caste politics played a big part in the result as well. In Tijara, BSP’s Sandeep Kumar Yadav made major inroads into the BJP vote bank by stitching together Yadav votes and BSP’s Dalit votes. In Kishangarh-Bas, BSP’s Deep Chand secured votes of Gujjars and Jats to defeat BJP’s Ramhet Singh Yadav. The consolidation of the SC, ST and Muslim vote — the area, along with Mewat, is home to a huge population of Meo Muslims — worked against BJP.
BJP fared worse in Bharatpur, from where it returned a nil, down from five assembly seats (out of 6) in 2013. The SC and ST votes went to BSP candidates in Nadbai and Nagar. In Nagar, the BSP candidate Wajib Ali secured Muslims, Jat and Dalit votes, sending BJP to third position.
The Congress wins: just about
Seen As Favourite, Just Manages Halfway Mark With Ally’s Seat
The only state where Congress was seen as the favourite before counting of votes began on Tuesday was Rajasthan. Yet, it was here that the numbers sprang a surprise. Though Congress maintained a lead, BJP at times drew too close for comfort.
Congress finally ended the day winning 99 seats, and its pre-poll ally Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) won another, giving the alliance the minimum 100 seats required to stake claim for government formation. Contrary to exit poll predictions, the Vasundhara Rajeled BJP was not decimated — it won a respectable 73 seats.
Of the 200 assembly seats in the state, 199 went to polls on December 7. Polling at Ramgarh seat in Alwar was cancelled due to the death of the BSP candidate. The BSP has won six seats — double the number it won in 2013. The party might ally with Congress, which has already started looking for post-poll alliances in the state.
The Congress leaders still called it a big victory for their party, which had won just 21 seats in Rajasthan in 2013. “This is a grand victory. We are forming the government in three states. The way Congress president Rahul Gandhi tackled PM Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah in Gujarat, the graph of Congress is going up and the graph of Modi is constantly going down,” said party general secretary and former CM Ashok Gehlot.
At the same time, Gehlot talked about forging post-poll alliances with other parties to keep BJP out of power in the states. “We will get the required majority, still we will take along other candidates or parties, except BJP, to form governments,” Gehlot said.
“Anybody who has fought against the BJP ideology in these elections, anyone who wants to form a secular, hardworking people’s government will certainly come forward and support Congress,” said Pilot. “I am in touch with most of these people who have won.”
Outgoing chief minister Raje won from Jhalrapatan, defeating Congress’ Manvendra Singh with a comfortable margin of nearly 35,000 votes. Congress’ potential CM candidates Gehlot and Sachin Pilot also won easily, defeating their BJP rivals Shambhu Singh Khetasar and Yoonus Khan, respectively.
Raje conceded defeat and tendered her resignation to governor Kalyan Singh late Tuesday night. “I accept the people’s mandate. I am proud of the work done by BJP workers in the state and am hopeful the new government will take it forward,” she later told reporters. Of the 13 Independent candidates who won, six are ex-MLAs of Congress, three are Congress rebels and two who did not get Congress tickets. Just two Independents — Om Prakash Hudla (Mahuwa, Dausa) and Suresh Tak (Kishangarh, Ajmer) — are BJP rebels.
CPM managed to win two seats — Dungargarh (Bikaner) and Bhadra (Hanumangarh). But its stalwart Amra Ram, who led the farmers’ agitation in Shekhawati region, lost to Congress’ Virendra Chaudhary, son of former PCC chief Narayan Singh.
Newly launched Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP), led by Hanuman Beniwal, won three seats. Beniwal retained his Khinvsar seat, while Indra Devi won from Merta (Nagaur) and Pukhraj won from Bhopalgarh (Jodhpur). The Gujaratbased Bharatiya Tribal Party, which has contested for the first time in Rajasthan, pocketed two ST seats — Chorasi and Sagwara — in Dungarpur district. Of the five seats that Congress left for its allies, just one seat was won by the alliance — Subhash Garg of Rashtriya Lok Dal won from Bharatpur.
“People have suffered a lot in the last five years, and despite all the pressures and misuse of resources by BJP, the people have given a mandate against it,” Pilot said. “BJP got 163 seats in 2013 and the Congress had 21 seats, but today we crossed the halfway mark. It is a victory of the people. For us, the most important thing now is to form a government that is not just a Congress government but a people’s government.”
Left gets 2 seats
On the face of it, victory in two seats in a 200-member assembly may not appear significant. But for the beleaguered Left, an ideology that faces questions over its political relevance, the victories in the unchartered territories of Bikaner and Hanumangarh in Rajasthan serve both as a much-needed booster shot as well as a reminder that some serious strategising is in order.
The victories, which the party attributed to growing discontent and anger against the Modi government’s policies, also saw party insiders dwell on alternative ‘pro-people’ policies. The sticking point, though, may boil down to the divisions within the Left with even CPI and CPM, while acknowledging the common cause of defeating the communal forces, remain divided on their working relations with principal opposition Congress.