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Congress on comeback trail?

Congress party’s impressive performance in the Rajasthan by-polls indicates that the party has gone into revival mode after the drubbing it received in the state during the 2013 December Assembly polls and Lok Sabha polls. The party won the Alwar Lok Sabha seat by more than 1.94 lakh votes and Ajmer seat by over 84,000 votes. It also won the Mandalgarh Assembly seat by nearly 13,000 votes. Earlier all these seats were held by BJP. The results have given a shot in the arm for Congress which was written off after the 2014 general election.

Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut took a jibe at BJP and termed that the Rajasthan bye-poll results acts as an interval and the real status of the party (BJP) will be revealed in the next year’s general election. He said, “The Gujarat elections were the trailer and the Rajasthan by-polls were the interval, now we will see the entire picture in 2019.”

BJP’s also failed to make inroads into West Bengal after it lost Uluberia Lok Sabha and Noapara Assembly seats to Trinamool Congress. Trinamool Congress leader Sajda Ahmed expressed her happiness to get the maximum support of voters and said, “BJP’s vote share has increased as CPI (M) has become weak in West Bengal and few of their voters have shifted their loyalties towards BJP. The election was seen as a contest only between BJP and TMC as Congress and CPI (M) stayed inactive in campaigning activities. Rajasthan by-poll and Gujarat assembly election results indicate that people have lost faith in BJP as the party has failed to fulfil masses’ expectations. We expect that the party’s vote share will further decline in forthcoming elections.”

Thus BJP’s dream of ‘Congress Mukt Bharat’ looks a distant dream as the party is showing a tendency of bouncing back after suffering severe defeats in elections. The results of Rajasthan and West Bengal is a wakeup call for BJP to pull up its socks and improve governance or else face more electoral debacles in forthcoming polls. According to political analysts, the Vasundhara Raje government will have to work hard to regain confidence of voters ahead of the assembly polls scheduled to be held this year.

Former AAP leader Mayank Gandhi said that people were unhappy with Vasundhara Raje led BJP government in Rajasthan as it has failed to provide good governance in the state. He said, “Farming community too is miffed with BJP. Congress has some good leaders in Rajasthan so it was expected that the party will fare better.”

When asked about BJP’s performance in Bengal he replied that BJP’s foothold is different altogether in WB as they have improved their performance in the state and it is a good sign for the party. “It is too early to say whether these results will have a bearing on the BJP’s performance in 2019 Lok Sabha polls as the party is in power and stronger in many states of the country,” he added.

Caste factor has played a dominant role in Congress’s victory as Rajput groups had supported the party after the Padmaavat controversy had erupted. Encounters of history-sheeter Chatur Singh and gangster Anandpal too helped the party’s cause. Gujjars were miffed with the BJP government after the bills granting reservation to them was stayed by the High Court.

Shiv Sena MLC Anil Parab said, “There might be some strong reason why BJP has received severe drubbing in Rajasthan by polls as the party had won convincingly in the 2014 Lok Sabha election in the same seats; but it is too early to judge the cause. It’s time for BJP to analyse what has gone wrong with the party’s strategy.”

People voted against BJP as they were unhappy with the demonetisation policy of the government. Business community too was adversely affected due to note ban and GST. The government had to pay a heavy price for ignoring the agricultural sector as it had failed to provide loan waiver to distressed farmers.

NCP MLA Kiran Pawaskar said that Rajasthan voters have issued a strong warning to the party about its jumla policy with the recent results. He said, “I don’t think the BJP has lost its popularity but people have become aware about their true face. Adding to that the recent budget announcement has made people aware that BJP has not done any work in four years and won’t perform in future too.”

Pawaskar also said when GST was introduced, market experts of the BJP had confidently mentioned that it will help in reducing petrol-diesel prices but no results are visible yet. “People will understand that old is gold i.e. Congress was much better than BJP government. BJP government in Rajasthan gives more prominence to cow slaughter incidents instead of other crimes. BJP’s setback in Rajasthan is just the beginning of the party’s downfall,” he added.

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