Why did Congress lose Rajasthan to BJP? Violence against women, paper leaks among key factors | Mint
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Business News/ Elections / Why did Congress lose Rajasthan to BJP? Violence against women, paper leaks among key factors

Why did Congress lose Rajasthan to BJP? Violence against women, paper leaks among key factors

Violence against women and corruption were major issues used by the BJP to criticize the Congress government in Rajasthan.

Congress in Rajasthan securing leads on fewer than 70 seats (HT_PRINT)Premium
Congress in Rajasthan securing leads on fewer than 70 seats (HT_PRINT)

Riding on the anti-incumbency wave, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) sprung a surprise in Rajasthan with victory on 20 of the 199 Assembly constituencies and leads on 94 others. Despite exit polls suggesting a closely contested battle between the Congress and the BJP, and some even forecasting a potential victory for the Congress, the saffron party defied all expectations, leaving Congress securing leads on fewer than 70 seats, significantly falling short of the crucial majority mark of 100.

Even though Rajasthan, in the past three decades, has voted for an alternative government every five years, Congress was hoping to buck the trend, riding on the outreach of its top leader and the manifesto guarantees. But, there are a number of factors that may have helped the saffron party in cruising past all predictions and securing a comfortable lead in the Assembly election 2023. Rajasthan Election LIVE Updates

During the campaigning, issues such as corruption, violence against women, recruitment exam paper leak cases and farmer suicides were prominently used by the opposition BJP to fling barbs at the Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government.

Despite Congress putting up a united front, the infighting between the camps led by Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot may have adversely impacted the party's chances in Rajasthan. The revolt of Sachin Pilot’s father against the high command was also featured during the campaigns. All this while, Congress was banking on the outreach capabilities of Ashok Gehlot and Mallikarjun Kharge, and the guarantees the party had promised for the state. The main issues, however, remained recruitment exam paper leak scams and violence against women.

In October, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) raided the residence of Rajasthan Congress chief Govind Singh Dotasara in a 2022 paper leak case, with the issue taking a political tone ahead of the Rajasthan Assembly election 2023. A few days ago, Govind Singh Dotasara’s sons, Abhilash and Avinash, were also summoned in connection with the Rajasthan Eligibility Examination for Teachers (REET) paper leaks. The raids and summons come as Rajasthan geared up for Assembly Election 2023.

There have been several incidents of crimes against women in Rajasthan, with some of them prominently becoming the topic for barbs flung at the Congress-led government, including the gangrape and murder of a Dalit girl in Bikaner. 

But it was a point of contention between not just the Congress and the BJP, but even between the ruling party leaders. Ahead of the elections, Ashok Gehlot’s Cabinet minister Rajendra Gudha had called out the Congress government over the safety of women in the state, leading to his sacking from the Cabinet.

“I was sacked for my 15-second statement in which I said that women in Rajasthan are not safe and crime against them is on the rise. They accused me of working with the BJP and asked me to apologise," Rajendra Gudha said.

Ahead of the Rajasthan election, Union Minister Anurag Thakur had said that the state had registered over one lakh cases of violence against women in the past four years.

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Published: 03 Dec 2023, 05:10 PM IST
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