Jaipur: A month after the ruling Congress party in Rajasthan performed just slightly better than the Bhartiya Janta Party in the municipal elections in three districts, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Kota, the party has put up a poor show in the Panchayat Samiti and Zila Parishad elections.
The BJP secured 1,835 panchayat samiti seats, while the Congress tally stood at 1,718. The remaining 422 seats were won by independents. In the Zila Parishad elections, the Congress won 239 seats as compared to BJP’s 312 seats. The result is still pending for some seats.
The local body and panchayat elections were being looked upon to determine if the ruling Congress party has been able to maintain trust in the state, especially after the recent showdown between chief minister Ashok Gehlot and his former deputy Sachin Pilot caused damage to the party’s image.
Although Gehlot was somehow able to maintain the top position, the Congress’s performance under his leadership in the local elections could potentially instigate rebellion in the party again, prior to the 2023 assembly elections.
The trend in Rajasthan has largely been that the Congress and BJP are voted to power alternately after every five years, and the recent result could be seen as the commencement of anti-incumbency sentiments against the Congress.
The Congress has failed miserably in the home districts of some of its senior cabinet ministers – health minister Raghu Sharma, Pradesh Congress Committee chief Govind Singh Dotasara, Shale Mohammad and Ashok Chanda, to name a few.
Gehlot has not tweeted about the Panchayat polls verdict yet. On the other hand, the opposition BJP has left no opportunity to milk the situation and represent it as validation for its central farm laws. It has claimed that the farmers in Rajasthan have given them votes to support the legislation.
“This historic win comes at a time when the ruling Congress government in Rajasthan is enforcing Bharat Bandh against the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policies for farmers,” said state BJP president Satish Poonia.
BJP IT cell in-charge Amit Malviya also called the BJP’s victory an endorsement of the Central farm laws.
In the recently concluded local elections in rural Rajasthan, BJP triumphed over the ruling Congress.
This is nothing but endorsement of the new farm laws. Will Congress read the writing on the wall?
— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) December 9, 2020
Poonia has further stated that the verdict reflects how the state unit of the BJP has been reversing the trend of the ruling party having an edge in the local bodies polls.
“From villages to cities, there is an anti-incumbency wave against the Congress government. There is resentment among the common people. The government has completely failed on various issues including electricity, water, roads, law and order, farmer debt waiver, crime,” Poonia stated.
It was speculated that NDA’s alliance partner Rashtriya Loktantrik Party’s (RLP’s) decision to fight these elections independently would affect the BJP’s position in rural areas, where the RLP has a stronghold.
However, the BJP managed a decent lead. The RLP won 56 seats in panchayat samiti and 10 in zila parishads.
RLP supremo Hanuman Beniwal congratulated his party workers and encouraged them to continue the good work.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) won 16 Panchayat Samiti seats and two Zila Parishad seats, while Bahujan Samaj Party won three.
Rajasthan had conducted these elections across 21 out of 33 districts for 4,371 Panchayat Samiti posts and 636 Zila Parishad posts.
In the municipal elections last month, the tally of wards won by the Congress had stood at 261, while for the opposition BJP in the state it stood at 242. Fifty-seven wards went to others.