A headline in Rajasthan Patrika, a Hindi daily from Jaipur, sums up results of the recent elections for state municipal bodies: BJP beats Congress, Congress beats Raje.
It is a fair assessment of the outcome. Though both parties are claiming victory in public, internally the Congress and the BJP leaders know their posturing is just fake bravado and bluster.
What do the results indicate? The BJP has won 1442 municipal wards and the Congress 1164 out of the 3351 that went to polls in this phase. Independent candidates and other parties have won more than 700 seats.
How significant is this? This is almost status quo when compared with the results in 2010. But, if elections for local bodies were held two years ago, at the peak of the Narendra Modi wave, the BJP would have swept the polls, decimating the Congress and wiping out the others.
The BJP had won 80 percent assembly seats and all the 25 parliamentary constituencies in the two previous elections. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP's vote share in Rajasthan was nearly 55 percent, around 20 percent more than that of the Congress. In these polls, the BJP's share has come down to just over 37.5 percent and its victory has been limited to around 40 percent wards.
This is a precipitous decline for Vasundhara Raje, an indicator of her falling graph. Traditionally, the BJP has enjoyed an edge over the Congress in urban areas. If the party's vote share in towns and cities of Rajasthan is falling, alarm bells should start ringing in the party.
State Congress chief Sachin Pilot claimed people are getting disenchanted with the ruling party. "The BJP bastions in the backyard of Vasundhara Raje, Jhalawar and Dholpur, have collapsed," Pilot argued to buttress his claim.
But the Congress chief needs to worry about the inability of the Congress to take advantage of the anti-BJP vote. His party's vote share has risen just marginally in 2015; with a cumulative vote percentage of nearly 27 percent, others have benefited from the anger against the BJP.
Congress leader and former Sirohi MLA Sanyam Lodha said voters are upset because there is no sign of the promised good governance on the ground. "The BJP has failed to deliver, its pre-poll promises and claims have turned out to be hollow. This is the beginning of the BJP's end," he said.
In private, though, many Congress leaders are worried about the absence of grassroot workers and strategies to turn the growing dissatisfaction with Raje into electoral gains. The lack of electoral success in spite of a favourable environment, indicates Pilot will have to work hard on the ground to recruit, organise and inspire workers. The strategy of making noises in Delhi, appearing on TV and ridiculing Raje only in media debates will not work for the Congress.
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Updated Date: Aug 22, 2015 08:37:26 IST