Rajasthan has a strong tradition of voting because it is a binary state, with the Congress and BJP winning alternate terms. Rajasthan has had a tradition of voting out the incumbent government since 1998. Congress was the beneficiary of this trend in 2018 but by 2023, Congress would be at the receiving end of this trend. Gehlot is managing to deal with open discord by Sachin Pilot and internal dissent by his close associates. Another factor is caste. That will play a huge role in the voting process. Anti-incumbency may see Gehlot out, with Vasundhara Raje just managing to win. If the BJP displeases Vasundhara in that case, she will make it a point that the BJP loses. She cleverly blocked Sachin Pilot’s entry into the BJP for understandable reasons. Then there is Paonia, another BJP contender backed by the RSS but not supported by the locals.
On one side, Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo has made a big impact and on the other side, Modi’s road show with scattered flowers and temple visits might do wonders for the BJP. Hindutva votes are another gimmick that always favors the BJP. Ashok Gehlot’s government is not that capable of making a breakthrough. Most of his ministers have wasted their energy fighting dissent led by Pilot by letting the governance go for a toss. And to the BJP’s luck, the vote margin between them and Congress was hardly 1% in 2018. If the BJP manages to swing 4–5% votes in its favour, garner 40% votes, and restrict the Congress below 35%, then the BJP would easily cross 120 seats.
People expected a lot from the BJP in 2014; their promises were lucrative, but gradually they failed to fulfil their promises, and people felt betrayed. They’ve realized that “Bure din” under Ashok Gehlot was much better than the jumla of “acche din” (good days) under Vasundhara. No doubt Rajasthan needs a lot of attention because farmers and youth in this region suffered a lot due to the lack of opportunities provided by the government. Voters have not witnessed any major change to resolve any relevant problems in Rajasthan. As a matter of fact, they’re even worse after the reign of the BJP in Rajasthan. The only factor that can make the BJP win more seats, which is expected to be minimal, is the Modi factor or by playing the Hindu card. But as we’re watching the opposition get stronger with their tactics, when facing Marwaris, the Modi factor is also estimated to have failed.
Rajasthan knows the power of vote; this time, Rajasthan may choose to vote for the one who’ll benefit their society as a whole, not a bunch of individuals. The only headache for the BJP top brass with regards to Rajasthan is the issue of leadership. The BJP top brass wants to get rid of Vasundhara Raje and bring new leadership. With the weakening of Vasundhara Raje, parallel power centres have emerged in the Rajasthan BJP: Gajendra Singh Shekhawat Bhupender Yadav, Sunil Bansal, and Satish Poonia. Too many cooks spoil the broth. To get a strong mandate, the BJP should set its house in order.
The inner fight between Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot was at its peak. But a sudden compromise between the groups in Congress has happened. We need to wait and see whether this holds good or not. At the same time, the inner-party fight within the BJP has come to the fore. After the results of the by-polls, Vasundhara Raje has started putting in more effort. She is out to prove that she is the face of the BJP in Rajasthan. But Amit Shah has categorically said that it is going to be collective leadership that will face the election. This is seen as a setback for Vasundhara.
The BJP is more confident of winning in Rajasthan than in the other four states (Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, and Mizoram), which will be going to polls this month. The BJP is trying to capture the state that it lost to Congress in 2018. The party is facing severe factionalism in its state unit, with leaders lining up to stake claims for the top post. They want to be named the CM candidate for the polls. Former chief minister Vasundhra Raje Scindia, Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Union Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal, Leader of Opposition Rajendra Rathore and Deputy Leader of Opposition Satish Poonia are contenders for the CM chair. The party believes contesting elections under united leadership will bring them back to power. Announcing someone as the chief ministerial candidate will lead to chaos and infighting within the party. This is the method of the BJP when they are contesting elections in a state while in opposition.
The party is trying to unite all its state leaders to put up a united front against a faction-ridden Congress. This was evident in MODI’s recent Ajmer rally, where all the big leaders were made to sit in front along with the Prime Minister. The BJP will make the contest PM vs. CM by highlighting the success of the nine-year rule at the center and the flaws of the Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lead the party’s campaign and urge the people of the state to vote for a double-engine government.