Battleground Rajasthan (2): Voters prefer change over stability

The first election of Rajasthan Legislative Assembly was held in 1952. The Indian National Congress won the elections with 82 seats followed by Ram Rajya Parishad with 24 and Bhartiya Jan Sangh (parent body of BJP) with 8 seats. The first chief minister of Rajasthan was Tikaka Ram Paliwal.

From 1952 to 1977 Congress dominated Rajasthan politics. In 1977, in line with the events unfolding after Emergency when Congress lost Lok Sabha elections and many states, Rajasthan also voted for the Janata Party which won 152 seats out of 200. Bhairav Singh Shekhawat became the first non Congress CM of the state. In 1980 in line with Indira Gandhi winning Lok Sabha election, after the decline of the Janata Party, Rajasthan also voted back a Congress government. The party ruled the state again for 10 years.

In 1990 in the aftermath of the Ram Mandir Andolan, BJP (85 seats) won state elections in alliance  with Janta Dal (55 seats) and formed the government under the leadership of Bhairav Singh Shekhawat. Shekhawat holds the record for the 1st BJP CM ever as Rajasthan became the first BJP ruling state in India. In December 1992 President’s Rule was imposed on 3 states – Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan on the plank of threat to secularism after the Babri Msjid demolition.

In 1993 when elections were held again, BJP received public support again in Rajasthan but suffered loses in U.P. and M.P. In 1998 elections Congress came back to power bagging 153 seats with 45% vote share. BJP was reduced to 33 seats with 33% vote share.


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In 2003 BJP came back to power with 120 seats while Congress was reduced to 56 seats.  In 2008 people of the state who love change rejected BJP, however even Congress couldn’t score 101 (majority required to form govt.). It fell 4 seats short and formed the government with the support of 6 BSP members and independents.

In 2013, Modi wave gripped the state and BJP came to power with a resounding victory.
It bagged the highest number of seats by any political party since the formation of the state (163 seats). Congress was reduced to barely 20 odd seats. 42% BJP voters voted on the name of Modi, much higher than national average of 27%.

From 1998 till 2013 in all state elections, government has changed hand every 5 years in Rajasthan. The state exhibits a strong trend of people overthrowing the incumbent government. So if the trend holds true, BJP is likely to lose the state.

In 2018, while Congress is banking on anti Incumbency against Vasundhara Raje government and historical trend, BJP hopes to reverse the trend banking on popularity of Raje among women, her social sector schemes and Modi factor.

There is another strong trend since 1998, the party which wins the state elections goes on to win the maximum seats in Lok Sabha elections. In 2018 BJP swept all the 25 seats of the state. So winning Rajasthan is very important for Modi’s bid in 2019.

Stay tuned…..

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