Five months ago, mainstream media brought the Dholpur elections in Rajasthan to the center-stage as a ‘litmus’ for the present Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje. An orchestrated picture was created to project that if Raje loses these elections, it would reflect badly on her governance and thereafter her downfall would be inevitable. Talks of Raje going to the Central Government have almost become a media ritual now.
The Unprecedented Win
Vasundhara Raje, defied all odds and media reports, and won the Dholpur by-elections by a historic majority, to say the least. Opponents were left gasping with a humiliating defeat – much embarrassing for the Rajasthan PCC chief Sachin Pilot, who had dedicated himself completely and was very confident of his victory. The defeat was yet another setback for Sachin Pilot who had already lost his own constituency Ajmer in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections to Kisaan leader Sanwarlal Jat. It was a personal triumph for Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje whose electoral strategy had proven successful in uprooting Pilot from Ajmer and winning all 25 seats from Rajasthan for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
As fate would have it, MP Sanwarlal Jat passed away recently after suffering from cardiac arrest during BJP President Amit Shah’s Jaipur visit last month. As media has started outlining – Raje will have to clear one more test before Rajasthan goes to polls in December 2018. It is a challenge, nevertheless one that Vasundhara Raje has already dealt with a number of times. Much closer to the 2018 Vidhan Sabha elections, the Ajmer by-election will have all the masala of a high voltage electoral clash. Both parties, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the opposition Indian National Congress will try to snatch this opportunity, the result of which will be labeled as a referendum by the people on the ruling BJP government, both at Centre and in Rajasthan. A lot is at stake for both Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and BJP President Amit Shah.
Winning combination of Raje-Shah
Unlike the perception created by sections with vested interests, BJP Chief Amit Shah’s visit to Rajasthan revealed his comfortable relations with Chief Minister Raje. Modi and Shah’s extraordinary triumph in Uttar Pradesh election has inspired BJP as one while the win in Dholpur, which has traditionally been a non-BJP seat, has reiterated the status-quo of Vasundhara Raje as the undisputed leader of Rajasthan. The Raje-Shah combination looks invincible, much to the worries of the broken and feeble opposition. The demise veteran parliamentarian and popular leader Sanwarlal Jat shall garner sympathy and only help the cause of the ruling BJP.
Congress looks Weak
A visibly split and tired opposition, Congress will have to put in a lot more effort to even respectfully lose the Ajmer By-election. Sachin Pilot is at the helm of affairs, given his proximity to Rahul Gandhi, and he will have to leave no stone unturned. Political analysts claim that Pilot will not risk his image again after Dholpur elections since he has once already lost badly to the Jats in the last elections. It may be the battleground for Pilot, but he will not jeopardize his projection as the CM candidate from the Congress front by losing yet again. The ‘grand old party’, ironically so, shall have to sketch a flawless approach to make an impact before the state assembly polls. Troubled with flaccid morale and ceaseless infighting, for Congress, it will be an issue of survival, and the chances look grim.